The works of the two celebrated American poets, William Blake and William Wordsworth, reveal significant differences and similarities. According to (Henry, 41), while Wordsworth will write in sonnets, Blake uses stanzas, which is a stylistic difference. The poems, ‘London’, by Blake and ‘Upon Westminster’ by Wordsworth, share key similarities while at the same time differing considerably in the manner in which the subjects and themes are presented. To note is the poets’ perceptions and presentation of London and river Thames. The similarities and differences arise due to the fact that the poets are at liberty to be accountable only to themselves in so far as perceptions of these subjects are concerned. In addition, effectiveness of the divergent or similar views is enhanced by the exploration of general semantic fields that lay in abundance awaiting these poets’ talented exploration.
The obvious contrast in these two poems is the perception towards London that Blake and Wordsworth have and the manner in which they talk of river Thames. The environment presented in ‘London’ leaves no doubt that Blake does not like London. This can be attributed to the fact he has been living in London since childhood. On the other hand, Wordsworth has not live in London and only encounters this city from a travelling coach when travelling with his sister one early morning when the city has not fully ‘woken up’. He likes London as is characterized by the words he uses to describe it. Blake employs negative semantic field into his diction when giving description of people in London. Using words like, ‘harlot’ and ‘sexual corruption’, Blake is able to unleash his disgust towards London.
Blake and Wordsworth differ in the way in which they describe river Thames in the two poems under study. Wordsworth says of river Thames, ‘the river glideth as his sweet will…’ while Blake says, ‘…where the chartered Thames does flow…’ which illustrates their significantly diverging views on Thames, (Bloom, 7). Wordsworth undoubtedly views Thames as a natural gift whose presence beautifies the world with its soothing glide that is free from human interference. On the contrary, Blake hates it and feels the river is a mockery to him. For Blake, Thames is a river, man made, that flows under the influence of human corruption—its existence is faked and reinstates all human inequities in London.
Though the content is different, it is worth pointing out that Blake and Wordsworth use similar subjects like cities, physical features in their poetry as is for London city and river Thames in the poems under study (Batho, 32). In addition, the two use focus shift in poetry, for instance in line 9 of ‘upon Westminster’ Wordsworth shifts from what he sees in the city of London to comparing it with some countryside. Again, Wordsworth shifts focus from humanity in his poem the presenting aesthetics in London, he writes ‘…the city now…wear the beauty of the morning…’ Blake also shifts focus almost in each stanza in ‘London’ and even shifts many time to talk of a Marks: ‘I meet Marks… Marks of woe…’ (Bloom, 56) says that, the works of the two poets are similar in the use of present tense that gives a sense of credibility in that Blake and Wordsworth are actually watching these subjects: London, Thames, Marks…
To conclude, Blake and Wordsworth have different approaches in the manner which they explore themes in their poems. However, there are similarities in their works as evident from the poems studied. They differ in aspects of style: Wordsworth will use sonnets while Blake will employ stanzas. Their works are similar in that both use focus shifts, imagery and tense. In the works studied, Blake dislikes London city and is disgusted by river Thames while Wordsworth, though has not been in London for long, likes it and adores river Thames.