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How does blake show timelessness in his poems?

The word ‘timeless’ can be applied to concepts, which are lasting and carry significance through a myriad of generations. Many of the intangible concepts through time are considered ageless due to their constant, universal relevance in every society since they are fundamental humane notions. The poems ‘London’ and ‘The Human Abstract’ convey timelessness through the key underlying themes of social issues, religious critiques and human values as well as philosophical concepts. Massimo Vignelli claimed ‘You can reach timelessness if you look for the essence of things and not the appearance. The appearance


transitory — the appearance is fashion, the appearance is trendiness — but the essence


timeless.’ This quote applies to the poems because although the overlying themes are

issues or thoughts of the time, the key overarching concepts are ones that are fundamental

in human character and society making them timeless.

A crucial, timeless topic is social issues, this is holds common significance within the poems.

In ‘London’ the social issues would be pollution, industrial work and poverty. In the first sentence the use of the word ‘charter’d’, which means confined or limited, could suggest that much like a person who is incurably sick would have been isolated in that day, the city’s contents are being confined to stop this disease, that are the social issues, spreading. Furthermore, since every face has ‘marks of weakness, marks of woe’, it can be assumed this is from the industrial work, which the population is taking part in and these show the oppression, as well as harsh conditions that they must suffer through. The repetition of the ‘marks of’ and the double ‘w’ sound create a list-like effect, hence extending and emphasising their distress. Likewise, the word ‘cry’ is repeated three times in the poem and the hard ‘c’ sound sets it apart drawing attention and focus onto the word, hence yet again stressing the extreme living standards, the effect of this becomes more apparent when applying it to the phrase ‘infants cry of fear’. Moreover, the mentions of social hierarchy highlight the poverty in the poem, for example in the phrase ‘Runs in blood down Palace walls’, suggests that the royalty are completely sheltered from the effects of the social issues and may even be oblivious; under false consciousness, to them. The word ‘blood’ is very significant as it is the only, vital, colourful imagery in the poem, which shows the extent of the pain and suffering going on in the lower social standards due to poverty, industrial work and pollution. In ‘The Human Abstract’, the social issues are poverty and human suffering. This can be seen through the opening phrase of the poem, ‘pity would be no more, if we did not make somebody poor’. This presents poverty because it suggests that without God having created some people to be poor, there would not be need for the feeling of compassion. Furthermore, the phrase ‘till the selfish loves increase’ suggests human suffering as it proposes that the better off half of the population are happy and share love between merely each other and themselves, without realising the harm that some of their actions may cause to the less well off half. Therefore, this phrase also suggests that poverty is a big problem because it highlights the difference between the richer people, who have love, but do not share this and the others who have a scarcity of this. Likewise, these issues are also brought up through the phrase ‘then cruelty knits a snare’, the word ‘knits’ has connotations of care and caution, this contrasts to the word ‘cruelty’, which has connotations of disregard and neglect. This could portray human suffering because the richer half could be critiqued

through this for carefully attempting to make the world better, such as through charity organisations, but the money from these not reaching the target population because of things like corrupt governments. The phrase could also further the idea of selfish love because they are providing for themselves and their families, but not sharing this much wider and therefore the effects of this are not as significant and the love is does not reach its full extent. These social issues can be considered to be ‘timeless’ because they are issues that are present in each small society as well as the large society of the whole population on earth.

Religious critiques are another fundamental timeless concept. In ‘The Human Abstract’ the christian values of mercy and pity presuppose destitution and suffering. The phrase ‘pity would be no more, if we did not make somebody Poor’. This can be considered a religious critique because it means that God made some people more wealthier than others, which created the need for such an emotion as pity, hence here Blake suggests that without Him having created the divide there would be no problem for this. I think he asks; why did God not just get rid of suffering and create a just world? Likewise, he proposes that religion keeps people in fear of ending up in eternal punishment or eternal joy, which creates a false peace of people pretending to be kind or better than they really are because they are afraid of ending up in hell. This is supported by the phrase If all were as happy as we; And mutual fear brings peace’. However, the religious critiques in ‘London’ are shown by the phrase ‘blackening church’, which is a juxtaposition because the church represents innocence and purity, whereas the blackening of this could suggest that it is corrupt or because it is stricken by poverty, the people in charge cannot fully do their work since they are suffering as well, hence the church is falling apart. Another religious critique would be ‘plagues the Marriage

hearse’. This can be considered as such since the Marriage is a key church celebration and hence it is plagued, it is no longer pure and the value of this is lost, as well as it gives people a false sense of hope. These religious critiques are ‘timeless’ because there is always going to be some people against the church, who think these concepts.

In conclusion, these concepts can all be considered ‘timeless’ due to their eternal importance and relevance in society. Blake uses, social issues and religious critiques to make these poems eternal and their themes relevant in all ages.