I wandered through each chartered street, Near where the chartered Thames does 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-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.
This poem is from the “Songs of Experience”. As the tiger was an example of violence, in the same way in “London” we have got different images of violence. The poet wants to focalize his attention on all the institutions of London.
It is used the 1st person pronoun: it is important because the poet uses his person as a speaking eye to denounce the bad moral values and ideals of his society.
We are in 1794. The poet wanted to unveil the condition of his contemporary men. We immediately understand the lack of hope: it is a pitiless and hopeless description of London. Blake proposes images of violence, of disease, particularly expressed by the last stanza where there is a “fall in tone” that shows the corruption of the society.
Corruption using “chartered”
Strong violence repeating “marks”