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Published on Jan 7, 2009
The repetition of words gives this poem a peculiar strength. You can hear his disgust at the state of London. Churches were blackened by soot and smog, but the chimney sweepers were children, abused and short-lived. Prostitution was rife in London and continued long after Blake's death. It wasn't until 1864 that the Contagious Diseases Act was passed, giving power to the police to inspect prostitutes and detain them if they had venereal disease - which was what blighted wives and babies. The first illustration of part of The Harlot's Progress by Hogarth. I'm not sure about the second.