Tuesday, August 09, 2011

classic poem and photo: london by william blake



London


I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames doth flow,
And 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 black'ning Church appals,
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.






Three nights of rioting. London has been mindlessly smashed and burnt. The ministers and police chiefs have preferred to remain in their luxury holiday villas. Mark Duggan's family is only just now getting answers. And the unsustainable financial system is collapsing.

Lines of poems run through my head. Lines from Yeats's 'The Second Coming', as well as the first verse of this poem by William Blake. 'London' was written in 1793, showing Blake's anger at the economic system and the political ideology. After revolutionary riots, harsh anti-seditious laws were passed, and the army was stationed all over London. Blake himself was later put on trial for 'uttering treasonable words'.  

Ominous times.

The image is of the Great Fire of London, 1666.

2 comments:

Mavis said...

Ominous times indeed. A very apposite quote.

my delayed reactions said...

Thanks, Mavis. I was thinking that today, after hearing the language David Cameron used in his speech about restoring public order.