How William Blake Uses Poetry as an Instrument for Social Comment
Living in a world without modern technology and media. William Blake (1757 -1827) used his poetry as a powerful instrument for social comment. This is particularly evident in 'Laughing Song'; and 'London'; taken from The Portable Blake.The two poems present conflicting views of creation and mankind. In his innocentyears, Blake saw the world as a 'joyous meadow, natural and free. However as hegrew with experience his naive ideology was tainted with images of war anddevastation. Blake's purpose in writing these poems is to position his readers to seethe world as it lies before them, unmasked and raw. He is inviting society to take astand against the degradation of our land and our people, a timeless invitation. To doso Blake exploits the traditional poetic conventions of persona, form, language, toneand atmosphere.The persona of both 'Laughing Song and 'London'; is Blake himself. However he iswriting in two opposing states of mind. 'Laughing Song'; comes from the Songs of Innocence, a collection of celebratory poems, offering a view of the world with the'voice of joy' though perhaps through rose-coloured glasses. Blake is simply enjoyingnature, and through this is therefore praising God. In 'London'; however, the glassesare removed and Blake's images of a once 'merry scene' are lost, replaced by 'charter'dstreets'. Coming from the Songs of Experience, Blake is presenting his perceptions of a ...
here William Blake is so happy, the world around him reflects his joy and merriment!He is full of the joy of life, his heart sings in wonder.The green woods laugh with the voice of joy, the river laughs,Here William Blake seems so happy, this is also reflected as his heart sings aboutnature around him. This reflects his merriment and laughter back to him. In the firstverse element of the earth laugh, in the second verse meadows laugh, grasshopperslaugh, Mary, Susan and Emily laugh.
'Laughing Song'; consists of three, simple, four-lined stanzas. Perhaps representingsuccinct periods in Blake's childhood. Beneath the apparently simple form however,lies an intricate web of complex meanings. Although ordered, Blake's use of rhymingcouplets and longer lines stress the delight in nature and the harmony between natureand man.In 'Laughing Song';, Blake uses light and joyous terms to describe the world aroundhim. The 'green woods' provoke images of lush nature, spring and happy times.However at the same time Blake is commenting on society's attitudes by personifyingthe woods, stream and meadow.The woods and meadow 'laugh' whilst the 'dimpling' stream suggests a wide smile onthe face of a child, enjoying God's creation. The children have 'sweet round mouths'