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Thursday, December 30, 2010

I wander through each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d 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-forg’d manacles I hear:

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blacken’ng Church appalls,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

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

William Blake

I believe that William Blake in this poem is trying to show what London was like through the eyes of the common or poor people. This poem was written during the time of the French Revelation, 18th century London. Blake himself was poor and lived most of his life in poverty. He died in poverty as well buried in an unmarked grave in which his wife had to borrow the money just to have him buried.

The fist stanza is talking about walking through the streets looking around at people and places. William Blake uses charter’d (or chartered), which means already mapped out as in the roads, this is also another way to say that the people in London at the time did not have much freedom to do things, their lives were chartered by the government and the church. He sees the sadness and misery of the people who are stuck on the cycle of poverty, which gives them lack of freedom.

This is shown in the second stanza. The mind-forged manacles are the constraints that keep the poor from seeing ways out of the economic depression. The people are in a fog mindset that is due to the restraints, controlling laws and oppressive dictates of the ruling monarchy.

In the third stanza, Blake is talking about how the church becomes tarnished and corrupt by the rich people and the city. Those soldiers are being drafted by the Church and sent off to fight a war. Then when they are unlucky enough to die, they are buried in the churches cemetery. The blood on the palace walls would be for all the blood that the soldier shed for King and Church.
The fourth stanza describes the midnight hour, night has fallen and this is when the ladies of the evening come out. Women during this time had to sell favors in order to put food on the tables to feed their families. Poverty was an all time high. The Harlot’s Curse could be sexual transmitted dieses that are passed from a prostitute to a man. He then could pass it to his wife and finally to an unborn child. This can cause death of the child and ultimately the marriage. This would help us understand the last line, which is an oxymoron about marriage, marriage being the beginning of a relationship and a hearse that represents the end of life. 

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