It is not at all certain that a merely moral criticism of society may not be just as "revolutionary" - and revolution, after all, means turning things upside down - as the politico-economic criticism which is fashionable at this moment. Blake was not a politician, but there is more understanding of the nature of capitalist society in a poem like "I wander through each charter'd street" than in three-quarters of Socialist literature.
George Orwell, Dickens (1939)
- London -
I wander thro' each charter'd street.
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow
A mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man.
In every Infants cry of fear.
In every voice; in every ban.
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackening Church appalls.
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse
William Blake (1757 - 1827)
(‘charter'd' two meanings: given liberty but also pre-empted as private property
‘ban' meanings: political and legal prohibition, curse, public condemnation)