Essay On Listening To Poetry (William Blake’s London)
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Literature, Poetry, Poem, The Reader, England, Voice, London, Reading
The poem London written by famous English poet William Blake belongs to his cycle Songs of Innocence. The work represents the author’s personal experience and feelings towards the night city. When poem is read aloud it is instantly heard that it was written for the reading in such a way. In the course of the poem, Blake describes his feelings through what he hears on the streets of London, and these sounds become more obvious and real when the poem is heard rather than when it is read. The voice of the reader makes the city clearer and understandable to the audience. The printed poem can only create the overall mood of the work.
Besides, the voice helps to understands that the monotonous repetition and alternative rhyming by Blake are used to create the atmosphere of London. According to the author, nothing positive and happy is left here, only the sounds of suffering are heard everywhere. Actually, the repetition of the words “marks” and “every” highlights the horrors of the night city (Blake). It emphasizes that such things and events are common and concern every citizen of London. The reader’s voice creates a special tempo of the poem. It generates the effect of the real walking process. The steps are almost heard on the streets of silent and solitary city. The change in the speed of reading highlights the climax of this piece of writing. The wonder of birth is in this poem is accompanied with the curses and cries. The prostitute cannot bless her infant because this tiny child probably left her without money for bread. Her profession does not envisage any pity at all. Besides, this walk refers also the horrors of church and government. Chimney-sweepers are crying and dead soldiers are sighing as a result of the actions taken by these institutions. Furthermore, the reader’s voice provides an insight into the desolation of London. The audience can hear the voice and the sounds but no people can be noticed in the poem, only the traces of their actions.
The person of the reader is very important for the understanding of the whole poem. The British accent of a man, as well as his tone and clear diction provides the audience with deeper insight in the meaning of the poem. The tone of the reader is calm and almost unemotional. It is even a little bit cold that creates the expression that the reader does not want to be involved into the actions of the poem. He rather feels disgust and alienation towards the night city life than the willingness to participate in it. The fact the reader is male automatically creates the effect of William Blake’s reading himself. Though it cannot be true the phantasy and the reality are mixed in this case, and the personality of the author is almost felt behind this British confident and touching voice. In case the reader was the poet, it would mean that he might describe the episode he witnessed. The imaginary figures would become real and touchable.
The rhythm of the poem is strict for the first three quatrains. However, the last quatrain, which the most dramatic and emotional, is read in a slower speed. Therefore, the audience is more attentive to this part of the poem. The reader slightly emphasizes the internal repetition and internal rhyme with the word “marks” mentioned in the first quatrain. The alternate lines rhyming cannot allow the reader to emphasize on the rhymed words but the clearness of rhymes is obvious in the course of the reading. The silent reading cannot create such highlighting to the details. The alliteration observed in the second quatrain during the silent reading is not so obvious during the reading aloud. But the notion of sounds becomes more understandable. The punctuation is indicated during recitation of “every” voice suffering in the poem.
Blake, William . "London ." Poetry Foundation. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172929>.
Poetry Database, . "London Audio Poem by William Blake." Youtube. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-vRFCqEQ1A>.