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 city 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 black’ning church appals;
And the hapless soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful barlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.
London was written by William Blake in 1794, in the aftermath of the French Revolution – a time of great political conflict in Britain.