ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Analysis of "London" by William Blake

Updated on December 26, 2015

Text of "London"

I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.

Meaning of the Title

“London” refers to the major city in England (and not to the author Jack London). Blake was a British poet and had many ties to London. The poem’s only direct reference to London is the Thames river. England’s government is centralized in London. It plausible that he is implying that all of these misfortunes and tragedies are stemming from this place.

Paraphrase Summary of "London"

I walk through the streets of London next to the River Thames and everyone that I see looks tired and depressed. In every cry from man, and in every cry of fear from children and in every voice, I can hear the metaphorical shackles that people make for themselves. I can see it in how the lower class looks so sad and how the unlucky soldiers die for our government. But mostly, I can hear the seedy parts of town that arise from poverty and how childbirth and marriage are being desecrated.

Important Connotation in the Poem

By using words like “blackning” and “plagues” and “hearse” and “blood” and “manacles”, Blake sets up a very dark and disturbing picture. He does an effective job of evoking pity and sorrow for these people. It’s interesting why he chooses to mention Thames. He has also capitalized nouns to increase their importance. This generalizes them, so that there are Harlots and Infants and Man, but nothing important or specific. Also, a hearse should symbolize DEATH, not marriage.

William Blake
William Blake

Use of Attitude

Blake doesn’t sound bitter or resentful, but just plain sad. He sounds resigned to the fact that life isn’t going so great and that he wishes that he could do something about it, but he just can’t. This poem would be best placed in a newspaper as part of the opinion/editorial page.

Shifts in Tone or Meaning

The first shift occurs after the first stanza. Blake is setting the stage for the rest of the poem. Then, right before the last stanza, Blake shifts again. This sets up the true meaning behind this classic poem. The claims stated at the end are the real meat behind his argument.

Theme of "London"

Ultimately, this poem is saying that when a government stops caring about the people, that’s when society goes downhill and everyone gets sad. That’s when a generation of “young Harlots” arises. Instead of being politically active, he is rather remarking from the outside the sad nature of government negligence upon a city or people.

What did you think of this poem?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Israt Jahan Moon 

      24 months ago from Bangladesh

      nice analysis.I love it


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)