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The Romantics: 'London' by William Blake

In this series of worksheets, students learn about The Romantics. Here they study the poem 'London' by William Blake.

'The Romantics: 'London' by William Blake' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet is designed to develop your understanding of the Romantic poets. It is based on the poem 'London' (1794) by William Blake. Read the poem below and then answer the questions that follow.

 

 

******************

London

 

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 Infant's cry of fear,

In every voice, in every ban,

The mind-forg'd manacles I hear: 

 

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackning Church appalls, 

And the hapless Soldier's sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls.

 

But most thro' midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlot's curse

Blasts the new-born Infant's tear 

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

 

******************

In this poem Blake wanders through London describing a series of snapshots of what he sees. Match the stanza with what it is describing. 

 

london abstract skyline - stock vector

Column A

Column B

stanza one
the streets of London and the river Thames
stanza two
the babies screaming
stanza three
the chimney sweeps and soldiers
stanza four
the sad, scared people and children

Is the poem a positive or negative description of London life?

positive

negative

William Blake creates a negative view of London life by using lots of words with negative connotations. From the list below, select the five words from the poem that have negative connotations. 

Use a dictionary to help you if you are unsure of any of the meanings.

cry

infant

weakness

woe

Thames

fear

youthful

hearse

In this stanza the word charter'd is repeated twice. What point might Blake be making?

Think about your knowledge of the Romantics and their views.

that the government are important because they control London

that London is better because it is so organised

that the government control and the importance of money is making life in London miserable for many

Now reread stanza two:

 

******************

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infant's cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 

 

******************

 

 

In this stanza, Blake describes the sadness and fear he sees around him in London. What word does he repeat to show that this fear and suffering is universal throughout London?

cry

fear

every

This stanza includes the famous line: "The mind-forg'd manacles I hear" 

 

Manacles are another word for handcuffs. Using this information, which option below best explains the line?

handcuffs are opened in the form of heart isolated on white background - stock photo

Blake hears the prisoners crying out.

Blake hears the suffering caused by the government trying to control people's lives and thoughts.

Blake hears the ideas people have about punishment.

In stanza three, Blake criticises two institutions for not helping the poor people of London. Which two institutions does he criticise?

 

******************

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackning Church appalls, 

And the hapless Soldier's sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls. 

 

******************

chimney sweeps

the Church

the army

the government and Royalty

Stanza three has a very bitter angry tone. 

 

******************

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackning Church appalls, 

And the hapless Soldier's sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls. 

 

******************

 

 

Blake creates this tone by repeating sounds. What three letter sounds are repeated to create a harsh and bitter tone?

ch

r

b

s

In stanza four Blake creates a very bleak view of the future:

 

******************

But most thro' midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlot's curse

Blasts the new-born Infant's tear, 

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

 

******************

 

 

He describes how new-born babies are cursed and the final line is very bleak. Match the key words in the final lines with their meanings.

Column A

Column B

blights
a widespread disease
plagues
a vehicle used to transport a dead person to a fun...
hearse
to cause ruin and destruction

The whole poem has a very regular rhyme scheme. This emphasises how controlled the people of London are, according to Blake. Which letter sequence best describes the rhyme scheme?

AABB

ABBA

ABAB

  • Question 1

In this poem Blake wanders through London describing a series of snapshots of what he sees. Match the stanza with what it is describing. 

 

london abstract skyline - stock vector

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

stanza one
the streets of London and the riv...
stanza two
the sad, scared people and childr...
stanza three
the chimney sweeps and soldiers
stanza four
the babies screaming
EDDIE SAYS
The poem sets the scene at the beginning of the poem by describing London, then it goes on to introduce the groups of people.
  • Question 2

Is the poem a positive or negative description of London life?

CORRECT ANSWER
negative
EDDIE SAYS
The poem describes a very negative view of London, as it uses quite negative language like 'cry... fear... weakness... woe'.
  • Question 3

William Blake creates a negative view of London life by using lots of words with negative connotations. From the list below, select the five words from the poem that have negative connotations. 

Use a dictionary to help you if you are unsure of any of the meanings.

CORRECT ANSWER
cry
weakness
woe
fear
hearse
EDDIE SAYS
The five words with negative connotations are: cry, weakness, woe, fear and hearse. These words are all associated with death and sadness.
  • Question 4

In this stanza the word charter'd is repeated twice. What point might Blake be making?

Think about your knowledge of the Romantics and their views.

CORRECT ANSWER
that the government control and the importance of money is making life in London miserable for many
EDDIE SAYS
By repeating the word 'charter'd' Blake is making the point that the government control, and the importance of money is making life in London miserable for many. There was a big difference between the rich and the poor, with many people living in poverty.
  • Question 5

Now reread stanza two:

 

******************

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infant's cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg'd manacles I hear 

 

******************

 

 

In this stanza, Blake describes the sadness and fear he sees around him in London. What word does he repeat to show that this fear and suffering is universal throughout London?

CORRECT ANSWER
every
EDDIE SAYS
The word 'every' is repeated to show the universal suffering.
  • Question 6

This stanza includes the famous line: "The mind-forg'd manacles I hear" 

 

Manacles are another word for handcuffs. Using this information, which option below best explains the line?

handcuffs are opened in the form of heart isolated on white background - stock photo

CORRECT ANSWER
Blake hears the suffering caused by the government trying to control people's lives and thoughts.
EDDIE SAYS
Manacles are used to control people, and 'mind-forg'd' suggests their thoughts are being controlled.
  • Question 7

In stanza three, Blake criticises two institutions for not helping the poor people of London. Which two institutions does he criticise?

 

******************

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackning Church appalls, 

And the hapless Soldier's sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls. 

 

******************

CORRECT ANSWER
the Church
the government and Royalty
EDDIE SAYS
Blake criticises the Church and the government and Royalty. He uses negative language like 'blackning' to describe the Church and talks of 'blood' running down the walls to criticise the government.
  • Question 8

Stanza three has a very bitter angry tone. 

 

******************

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry

Every blackning Church appalls, 

And the hapless Soldier's sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls. 

 

******************

 

 

Blake creates this tone by repeating sounds. What three letter sounds are repeated to create a harsh and bitter tone?

CORRECT ANSWER
ch
b
s
EDDIE SAYS
The three sounds that are repeated are: ch, b and s. these are all explosive sounds so it makes the reader sound angry as well when it is read aloud.
  • Question 9

In stanza four Blake creates a very bleak view of the future:

 

******************

But most thro' midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlot's curse

Blasts the new-born Infant's tear, 

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

 

******************

 

 

He describes how new-born babies are cursed and the final line is very bleak. Match the key words in the final lines with their meanings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

blights
to cause ruin and destruction
plagues
a widespread disease
hearse
a vehicle used to transport a dea...
EDDIE SAYS
The vocabulary chosen portrays an image of death and illness and shows how negatively he views London.
  • Question 10

The whole poem has a very regular rhyme scheme. This emphasises how controlled the people of London are, according to Blake. Which letter sequence best describes the rhyme scheme?

CORRECT ANSWER
ABAB
EDDIE SAYS
The rhyme scheme ABAB best describes the poem:
I wander thro' each charter'd street, = A
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. = B
And mark in every face I meet = A
Marks of weakness, marks of woe. = B
---- OR ----

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