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Quotes

Quote #1

I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow, (1-2)

Chartering something—controlling it through legal means, or making it more narrow—is a way of killing something. This becomes clearer in the poem as everybody the speaker meets on these "streets" seems dead.

Quote #2

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls; (9-10)

We can't think about chimney-sweepers without thinking of the color black, which, at least in a poem like this, definitely makes us think of death. Just to make sure we "get" it, the word "blackning" appears in the very next line. Death, death, death.

Quote #3

And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls. (11-12)

Soldiers fight wars, which makes us think of death. The image of blood running down a wall does as well. Taken together, the speaker clearly has war-related death and war-related violence on his mind. Strangely, these things are "present" in London, a place far away from any real battlefield. Wow.

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