William Blake

William Blake is one of the greatest poets to have ever lived. Some critics have discussed the notion that William Blake was insane or crazy. One critic of his poetry said this about Blake: There is no doubt this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man that interests me more than the Sanity of Lord Byron & Walter Scott! (Wordsworth 13:163). While many may question his sanity, William Blake became one of the most influential poets of his time and time yet to come.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Industrial Revolution was born in England. With this new growth in industry and capitalism, businessmen recognized the advantage of cheap labor. Children were among the most abused work force in that countrys history. William Blake saw this increase of social injustice and was overwhelmed, so he began to write about this hypocrisy of social values that he felt was being carefully hidden from the mainstream. While most considered this unavoidable, child labor was a topic that they did not discuss openly in social groups. Blake wanted to change all of that. As a social critic, he wrote many poems condemning the hypocrisy between these two worlds, for example, The Chimney Sweeper, London, and The Garden of Love.
In London, Blake reveals that this hypocrisy has robbed the world of innocence and spirit. In the first two lines, Blake repeats the word charterd. He uses this repetition to stress the mechanical behavior of the world around him. The word charter has connotations of something that can be sold or hired for money. Blake is connecting this idea with the chartered rights of

Englishmen given three hundred years ago by the crown and never to be taken away. By using the subject “street,” and the river “Thames,” Blake is announcing to the world that this structural society has even corrupted nature. In the next two lines he comments on the beaten men of society: “. . . every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe. This behavior is the thief of the individuals innocence as the city of London represents what is manmade: In every voice, in every ban, / the mind-fog manacles I hear: Blake turns to the root of the problem in the next stanza as he brings the church and state into the poem. In literature, the church is usually expressed in white symbolizing purity and often in contrast with children. These two ideas form a double negative image symbolizing the church when Blake writes about the “. . .blackened Church. . . and the Chimney sweepers cry. The state has turned her back on the people as the . . . soldiers sigh / Runs in blood down the Palace walls. The government, in essence, is imprisoning the children in this world of experience. The children have not had a choice given to them because everything has been mapped out for them: In every cry of every Man, / In every Infants cry of fear. Blake quite sarcastically critiques the moral code in London where they sell the children into prostitution: How the youthful Harlots curse, blasts the new--born infant’s tear. The children can no longer have a sense of individuality because of the molestation and disease which have made them all alike. Through these institutions, society has murdered the souls and spirits of the innocent. London only knows

the tears of sorrow rather than the tears of joy: And blight with plagues the Marriage hearse. It was said that to describe Blakes intellect in a single sentence we should say that a mind molded in the primeval intellectual world which gave rise to the Book of
Job. . . then launched into the meaner London life. . .(Hutton 13:164). Blake is a crusader for social equality. He only desires the injustice to cease which is the thought that prevails throughout the poem.
In The Garden of Love, Blake criticizes the Church for being the instrument of decay on the souls of the youth. In the first two lines of the poem, Blake reveals that upon looking at the Church he sees something new: I went to the garden of Love, / And saw what I never