London vs Checking Out Me History

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LilBill_100
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#1
Hi,

I was hoping someone could give feedback on this essay I've written. Thank you, in advance.

In 'London' and one other poem, how do the poets present ideas of restrictions and need for reformation?

London by William William Blake is a political poem commenting on the suffering and restriction of the ordinary citizens by the class system, contrasted with the luxurious indifferent lives of the aristocracy and the church. During the Industrial Revolution, an event signifying London's industrial growth in the 1800s, only the upper class seemed to be thriving; the rest of society lives in fear restricted by their own "mind-forged manacles."
Checking Out Me History is similarly a critical poem. John Agard wishes to criticise the education system in Britain for its eurocentric views and refusal to promote other cultures alongside their current teachings. Agard is also criticisng the government and wishes for reformation, but his poem is centred around cultural and social change.

Blake immediately sets a contrast with the juxtaposition of "wandered" with "chartered". "Wander" implies a sense of freedom, for the speaker's movement is not restrained and he has the ability to act as he wishes. But this is contrasted with "chartered" (owned by the government) perhaps to highlight how much more privileged the speaker is in comparison to the ordinary citizens of London, helping to highlight the massive imbalance.
Blake continues to describe the oppression, claiming it leaves behind "marks of weakness ... woe". "Marks" has connotations of permanence, almost as if these feelings of suffering are etched onto the people and are what identify them as Londoners. Alternatively, a "mark" is something that is left behind, rather like a blemish. Perhaps, Blake could also be suggesting that this constant suffering in London ruins the state of the city itself.
The "w" sound in "weakness" and "woe" falls apart and it doesn't sound complete, as if to mirror the idea of society falling apart under these restrictions.

Agard uses contrast , where he begins describing a well-known rhyme or a fact and contrasts this with information of a person of West Indian descent, like "Touissant L'Overture". The sudden shift in focus catches the reader, because this West-Indian figure will be someone they're unaware of, internally highlighing the reader's own ignorance to such cultures. Therefore, Agard sets this contrast up in order to build up an accusation against the reader and the government themselves, since they've only ever taught Eurocentric views.
The repetition of 'Dem tell me' sets a repeated disjunction between 'dem' and 'me', perhaps to mirror how confrontational people of different cultures have become because each culture is seemingly overshadowed by the other.
Agard promotes the notion of reformation by using the strong verbs of 'blind' and 'bandage', where the damage inflicted is emphasised by the plosive alliteration. Both 'blind' and 'bandage' are visual, and 'blind' perhaps highlighting the sense that Agard's culture suffers due to a lack of recognition, and is being damaged by the lack of acceptance.

The damage caused by the cultural restraints are similar to the suffering of society in London, damaged by economic and social restraints. The metaphor "mind-forg'd manacles" suggests self-created restraint, and such societal inequality is only so prolonged because the people of London are not actively voicing against it.
The suffering extends to all citizens, emphasised by the anaphora of 'In every', as if to suggest that all parts of society are suffering from the same reason, and to the same extent. Perhaps the unification of everyone with the repeated totalising expression builds a sense of hope and belief within the poet that a collective uprising can vanquish the corrupted aristocrats, reminiscent of the French Revolution in 1789.

The structure of London is cyclical, where the final oxymoron of 'youthful harlot' (prostitution) links back to the original oxymoron of 'wander' and 'chartered' to reflect the endless nature of suffering in society. The rigid regular ABAB rhyme scheme and the use of unswerving 4-line stanza throughout mimics the tightly-controlled nature of the upper class, who give little room for freedom.
Checking Out Me History also has a regular rhyme scheme when referring to the eurocentric rhymes and figures, perhaps to trivialise these teachings and their lack of importance. But, interestingly, the same rhyming pattern is repeated in reference to West Indian figures, perhaps in an attempt to unify both eurocentric and West Indian cultures and suggest that both are of equal importance.
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