Friday, October 1, 2010

Three Poems Involving London

William Blake

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd 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-forg'd manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning 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.

 In a London Drawingroom
         George Eliot (1818-1880)  nom de plume

The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.
For view there are the houses opposite
Cutting the sky with one long line of wall
Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch
Monotony of surface & of form
Without a break to hang a guess upon.
No bird can make a shadow as it flies,
For all is shadow, as in ways o'erhung
By thickest canvass, where the golden rays
Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering
Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye
Or rest a little on the lap of life.
All hurry on & look upon the ground,
Or glance unmarking at the passers by
The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages
All closed, in multiplied identity.
The world seems one huge prison-house & court
Where men are punished at the slightest cost,
With lowest rate of colour, warmth & joy.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
                                  T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreat        5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …        10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,        15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,        20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;        25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go        35
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—        40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare        45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,        50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—        55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?        60
  And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress        65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets        70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!        75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?        80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,        85
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,        90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—        95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,        100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:        105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
      .      .      .      .      .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,        115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …        120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.        125
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown        130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.


  1. The first two poems in my opinion relate more to each other. They both show sad and dull emotions. If it wasn't for the time period that the poem was written in ,I would say that the first poem had to do with the Germans bombing London during the World War. The reason I though that in the first place is because in the first poem lines 11-12 it says, "And the hapless Soldier's sign, Runs in blood down in Palace walls..." I believe that that signifies death.
    But it's obvious that I'm wrong. As for the second poem the last 3 lines of the poem explain what a drawing room is. From my own definition it was a place where privileged members of court would gather to await the Kings presence. Lines 17-19 express the emotion of being in a drawing room, and what it signifies. "The world seems one hug prison-house & court, Where men are punished at the slightest cost, With lowest rate of colour,warmth & joy." So basically being at the Kings side wasn't always the greatest because of what these people had to do for him, which was to torture and kill. The last poem I honestly read 2 times and I'm having trouble understanding it. I was hoping if anybody could maybe explain it to me.

  2. In William Blakes' poem "London" he does far more than just describe what the city looks like. He talks about the chimney sweepers and how dirty they are and about a war in which a "hapless soldier sigh." These lines shows us that the city or country is going through tough times and that everyone is effected by these devastating hardships. This poem reminds me of the "Chimney Sweeper" because it also describes the dirtiness and the hopelessness of a city. However, this poem does have some great rhyme schemes. Blake cleverly and artistically uses a rhyme scheme to make an otherwise sorrowful poem into one that is pleasing to the ears. For example, in lines 5-9,
    "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,"
    the ABAB rhyme scheme is very effective and sounds very smooth. If you didn't know what you were reading, you might think this poem is about joy or happiness.

    Like the first poem, this poem too has a very dreary mood to it. This poem is about a person who is in a drawing room trying to capture a picture so that he can draw it on his blank canvas which is "clothed in hemp." However, he sees nothing that he can draw. He describes a very dark and depressing scene in which not even a "bird can make a shadow as it flies." Also, he feels as if he is trapped in this dark and gloomy world and he feels as if he is stuck within this "one huge prison-house." He ends this poem by saying how boring and mournful his world and how it is "with lowest rate of color, warmth & joy." I enjoyed reading this poem because even though it was sad, the way that he describes the scenery and the way he uses descriptive words made me imagine these things. When he described a bird flying without a shadow, I thought it was a very captivating image.

    The last poem for me was quite difficult to understand. I believe this poem is about a man who is in love with a women but is too scared to talk to her. Throughout the poem, the narrator is imagining and daydreaming about this women and is picturing himself with her, "I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.". He keeps staring at her but cannot produce enough courage to talk to her, "The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase." This poem was rather lengthy and difficult but it was nice to read. The phrases and the language is far different from what we are used to. Perhaps if it was written in a language most of us are used to, then we might be able to appreciate it more.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I believe the poem "In a London Drawingroom" shows the downfall of London, and how it is trap to its visitors! This poem metaphorically shows how London traps its citizens with its false beauty, and then sucks their life out of them. Why you may ask; well to power up the city life! To make the city more known! Metaphorically speaking, this poem tells a story on how the visitors are attracted to the city like mice attracted to cheese on a mouse trap! The citizens chase down the sweet smell of the cheese, and then the next thing they know they are stuck! No where to run, no where to escape the false beauty of London! The mice see the exit, but they cant run because London is constantly holding them down!

    This poem can relate to the idea of New York City being as amazing as it is said to be! People who have never been to NYC constantly tell stories of its beauty, and how awesome it would be to live there. Well the truth is that its not the best city in the world, and its truly isnt that amazing! Chances are, if you move to NYC and know no one, you are going to end up poor sooner or later. Left on the street to die, and to be mocked by other citizens. As you beg for money, they spit at you... no one will care for you. NYC gives false hope of making it big in life (being rich, marrying someone rich, and living in a rich neighborhood). To conclude this NYC rant, i would like to say that the darker shades of NYC only show when you look deep enough to see them! - This is what i get when i read this poem about London! Everyone says how amazing and beautiful the city is, but no one asks how many homeless people live on the street! Not once have i heard anything bad about London! Ha!

  5. I agree with Brandon about the Last poem, it was difficult to understand but it does somehow relate to Love. I also agree to the idea of London and Chimminy Sweepers within the poem "In a London Drawingroom"! This is probably shown from a chimmin Sweepers view of the city as he is doing his normal job on sweeping! Maybe all his work of dealing with cleaning smoke has clouded his view of the natrual beauty of London, to a unnatrual and distrorted view of darkness! Hmm makes me think!

  6. I understand what the first one is talking about. He is talking about people suffering and going through bad times hard to deal with.

  7. Bagley where do you find all these peoms?

  8. lol good question medina!
    I read this poem two times and I don't see how it's a love song ...