If this poem is considered alongside William Wordsworth's Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, 3 September 1802, the differing attitudes are striking. Blake's poem is very negative about city life, and focuses closely on the inhabitants of the city throughout. Wordsworth's, on the other hand, is about the speaker's feelings about seeing a deserted city.
"The river glideth at his own sweet will" is arguably a conscious rejection of Blake' description of the
"charter'd Thames". Blake sees the city as symbolic of man's destructive dominance of nature; even the river is not free.
Both poems are about a speaker encountering the city and reacting to it.