First there is this poem, "London" by William Blake, from today's edition of The Writer's Almanac:
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse
* * * * *
And there is this personal postscript:
William Wordsworth said William Blake was a mad genius. I agree. I was introduced to Blake rather late in my life -- just about 20 years ago -- when I took a semester-long course on Blake's poetry and art; I continued studying Blake after the course, and I have read most of Blake's poetry, I have viewed most of his art, and I have read the biographies by William Gilchrist and Peter Ackroyd.
As for "London," one of Blake's poems in Songs of Innocence and Experience, don't let the easy-going rhythm and rhyme scheme lull you. The poem is to my mind one of the most vivid and disturbing poems ever written. I read it as a harrowing portrait of urban life and poverty, an indictment of government and the church, and a lament on the far-reaching scourge of sexually transmitted diseases.
I offer the poem to you without further comment.
However, I encourage you to comment.