• “London” belongs to the “Songs of Experience” part of Blake’s larger work.
  • The poem provides a critical view of London in the 18th century, uncovering the darkness and despair beneath the city’s facade.


  • “Chartered streets/Thames”: These denote the commercialisation and corruption of natural and human resources.
  • “Black’ning Church”: Represents the failure of the Church to provide spiritual guidance and succumbing to corruption.
  • “Mind-forg’d manacles”: Symbolises the restrictions placed by society on free thought and self-expression.


  • Corruption and Urbanisation: Blake highlights the adverse effects of industrial expansion and commercialisation.
  • Social Injustice: The exploitation of children, soldiers and everyday citizens speaks to prevailing social inequalities.
  • Mental Restrictions: The manacles forged in one’s mind echo the self-imposed restrictions and fear set by society.


  • Sensory Imagery: Blake uses words like ‘cry’, ‘sigh’, ‘curse’, and ‘plagues’ to create a bleak and oppressive atmosphere.
  • Aural Imagery: Sounds of ‘Infant’s tears’, ‘Soldier’s sighs’, and ‘Harlot’s curse’ represent different forms of societal oppression.


  • The portrayal of London as a constrained and dismal place can be seen as a metaphor for a society bound by restrictive social norms.

Rhyme and Meter

  • “London” maintains an ABAB CDCD rhyme scheme that enhances the poem’s somber tone.
  • Each stanza consists of four lines with a steady iambic tetrameter, underlining the mournful rhythm.


  • As part of “Songs of Experience”, “London” exposes the darker side of society and the loss of innocence in an increasingly industrialised world.
  • The poem reflects Blake’s romantic philosophy, with his strong distaste for the industrial revolution and its dehumanising influences.

This breakdown offers a comprehensive understanding of “London” by William Blake within its broader anthology context.