Essay Blake’s London versus Paz’s The Streets


William Blake’s “London” and Octavio Paz’s “The Street” both use streets as symbols. Blake analyzes the traits of the different social groups on an everyday encounter while out on the streets, whereas Paz’s poem encompasses the feelings of a man on a particular journey down a street. This is just one of many similarities in the two poems. Both poems exude an intimate feeling of discontent, yet both are for very different reasons. Blake’s poem deals with the external conflict of a politically unstable London, while Paz’s poem deals more with the internal conflict the narrator experiences as a result of low self worth. One may not catch some of the obvious similarities and differences in these two poems if not looking with a critical eye. There are many aspects of a poem to look at when trying to compare and contrast, such as tone, imagery, structure and persona, but those are just a few things.

The tone of a poem creates the mood of the reader. Without a set and fairly obvious tone, the poem would not have as much affect on its reader. In William Blake’s “London,” the tone is somewhat somber. He creates a mood of pity for the people of London. All social stratifications would appear to be unhappy with their status judging from such lines as “And mark in every face I meet/Marks of weakness, marks of woe” (Blake 497). From chimney sweeper to new-born child, all come across as hopeless. In “London,” Blake creates an image of blood running down palace walls, which is quite obviously a sign of political insecurity during this time period. Opposition of citizens and government created an outcry of writers at this time in England, which would explain the somber, non-supportive tone of Blake’s poem. T…

…gical trait to appeal to people who can relate. Blake seems to relate to the feelings of those he describes, and all of his characters share emotions. In contrast, Paz’s character is isolated and cannot relate to anyone. The authors of these poems are expressing their feelings through their words. Whether they are feelings of discontent or of loneliness, a poem, for some, can be an outlet. Blake and Paz’s poems take their readers down a street. The streets are very different, but alike in their own ways. It is interesting to think of how such similarities can come out of two poems written at such different periods in time.

Works Cited

Blake, William. “London.” Literature and the Writing Process. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2002. 497.

Paz, Octavio. “The Street.” Literature and the Writing Process. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 2002. 545.