William Wordsworth’s and William Blake’s distress at the state of humanity in the early nineteenth-century was shared by both. In their respective poems “Lines Written Early Spring,” (lines 5-24), and “London,” they present a vision of the problems facing man that is both distinct but also unified. They use different poetic devices to convey a similar meaning. Both poets use their mood to demonstrate how man’s struggle is deep, despite the vast differences in tone between each other. Blake and Wordsworth both use rhyme and meter to link man with another entity. The poems differ greatly in style and content, but they are both addressing the same issue. Wordsworth sets the mood immediately with his “Lines”. He uses peaceful imagery and a pleasant setting to set the scene. The reader finds himself in a grove of trees where the author is observing Nature. The birds are “hopping and playing” (13), they “seemed to be a thrill with pleasure” (16), while “the budding leaves spread out/To catch that breezy breeze” (17). He uses the imagery of serenity, joy and peace to illustrate the darker side of humanity without actually mentioning it. His tone is not broken by his attempts. By avoiding to say exactly what “man” has made of mankind (8) he is allowing the reader to create their own image. This is in stark contrast to his peaceful surroundings. Blake, meanwhile, uses tragic and harsh imagery that conveys the harshness and tragedy of the world. Blake uses harsh imagery instead of Wordsworth using soft imagery. Blake uses infants crying twice (6,15) and writes “the hapless Soldier’s Sigh/Runs down Palace Walls in Blood” (11). The words he uses evoke images of oppression and being ruled. The ruling class has “chartered” or sanctioned the streets and river. This shackles the minds of working-class men. In the last lines of the poem, he juxtaposes’marriage,’ with ‘hearse.’ This is to show that all that was once happiness and life now has become death and sadness. Blake, unlike Wordsworth, makes the point very clear. He uses vivid imagery such as the “black’ning” church (10). This line has multiple meanings. The word ‘blacking’ can be used both in transitive and non-transitive forms. In the line above, the church is blackening and acting as an agent of blackening to the people. Blake’s world is a place where the church or those in charge of the church aren’t doing their job. The church, as a symbol of elitism, is now covered with the black soot that comes from oppression. Wordsworth incorporates God and His role into his poem. In “Lines,” the man and nature are tied together. Wordworth’s poem, “Lines,” shows that every element is enjoying being. When he wrote in the final stanza “If This Belief From Heaven be Sent/If Such is Nature’s Holy Plan/Have Not I Reason to Lament/What Man Has Made of Man?” (21), He was saying that even though man is supposed to live as Nature does, it is not happening, thus his sadness. The plan is not being followed. Blake and Wordsworth both express that God is disobeyed in their poems. This disobedience is what is causing the discord. Wordsworth shows more than that by describing Nature as enjoying her own being. Personification is another way he shows the relationship between man, Nature and man. He says that “…everyflower/Enjoys breathing” (11) and that branches “…spread their fan/To capture the breeze” (17). The earlier statement that Nature was connected to the “human soul that through [him] ran” (6) is now being shown as a way of showing that there is also a small human soul within every movement and act of Nature. He’s writing about how the world should be. Then he says that it isn’t. Blake, however, is more blunt about the reality of things and doesn’t bother to think about how they should be. He achieves this by connecting the working class with the oppressive upper-class elitist institution. Blake capitalizes certain words strategically in his poem. Blake capitalizes only certain words in his poem. By capitalizing the words, he shows subtly how man and institution are at odds with each other. Both poets use the idea of linking man to another entity to illustrate a problem within the system. Blake and Wordsworth are also using their language to express a crisis in the human race. Blake uses complex language to show the complexity of problems. He wants to show a world that is contaminated and corrupted by the rapidly industrializing economies. He uses lines that convey a complex, terrible idea in only two words. Another example is “mind-forged menacles”, an expression which has multiple meanings. He wants the reader to think and to not take his words lightly. He uses stark, violent metaphors. His lines seem to be rushed and move at a rapid pace. It is a reflection of his feelings about the plight of man. It’s violent, it’s hard, and it continues to grow rapidly. Wordsworth’s simple language shows that the issue we face is basic. He uses basic language to create very simple images. There is only one word longer than 2 syllables. Wordsworth is not trying to make the reader see a complex problem. He wants them to visualize it in their own way. The poet doesn’t want a complex image. He wants simple words. He is trying to convey that man is out of sync with his roots. That is a straightforward idea that is easily expressed. The roots of the poem are that man must enjoy life and not change it in any way. Both poems share a similar ABAB meter scheme, as well as iambic pentameter. In “London”, the alternate rhymes serve to maintain the monotony, predictability and repetition of the suffering circle in the city. The meter used in this poem is inconsistent. It begins as iambic, but then shifts to the less common trochaic, at line 9, and returns to the iambic, for the final lines. The purpose of this is to show that the world isn’t in harmony. Blake has made a great effort to illustrate ‘how the world is,’ but here he tries to demonstrate that it’s not as it should be. The way things are, they don’t really make any sense. Wordsworth follows Blake’s strategy with “Lines”. Each verse has the same rhyme scheme and is written in pentameter iambic. However, the last line in every stanza in iambic is one foot shorter. The reader feels a bit dissatisfied. He thinks that something is missing. Wordsworth and Blake do this to make the reader aware that something is not right. Both poets intended to leave the reader feeling dissatisfied, or even frustrated, and encourage them to think about the poem. Both Blake and Wordsworth use subtle and sometimes overt poetic devices to make their point. Although they approach it in different ways, they use the same means to convey their ideas. Each uses different tactics to convey his message.


  • owenbarrett

    I'm Owen Barrett, a 31-year-old educational blogger and traveler. I enjoy writing about the places I've visited and sharing educational content about travel and culture. When I'm not writing or traveling, I like spending time with my family and friends.