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Songs of Innocence: The Chimney Sweeper

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, March 27, 2008

by William Blake

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet; and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight, -
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm.

Read Analysis of The Chimney Sweeper
originally taken from

Unlike the one in Songs of Innocence, "The Chimney Sweeper", in Songs of Experience is very dark and pessimistic. This poem also seems to be very judgmental and gives motives for everything, but unlike Song of Innocence, the sweeper in this poem does not free himself from his misery.

In the first two lines, Blake gives us an image of an anguished child in a state of agony or even in a state of corruption. The color black seems to be very important because it is used to represent sin against innocence, the color of the white snow. Blake also shows the same child weeping, when he really means to say sweeping, because that is what has that child in such grief. This stanza ends by someone asking him about his parents, which later end up being responsible for this child’s state.

In the second stanza, the child is pictured in a very more happier and playful mood. This soon changes when he decides to tell the stranger more about his parents. They are showed to be punishing their child for being so happy by "clothing in clothes of death and teaching him to sing notes of woe." It is very obvious the sweeper’s feels hate towards his parents for putting him in such sadness, but instead he chooses to hide it by making himself look happy and satisfied.

It is clear in the last Stanza that Blake’s criticizing the Church , especially, and the state for letting a lot of these things happen. During this time many children were dying from being, either, worked to death or from malnutrition. Neither the state or the church did anything to stop this and is obviously why Blake feels so much anger towards them. The sweeper’s parents are really no help towards their own child. This makes the reader wonder, if they are worshipping god, the source of good doings, why do they chose to ignore their own child. They would rather turn their heads the other way and instead findlove at church.

I think this is a very striking poem. It clearly shows Blake’s anger towards society at this time. I also think that he used many of his poems to make people aware of the suffering of people at this time. I also think That he wrote two separate books to give a fuller effect. Songs of Innocence, I think was how people thought that everything was okay. Songs of Experience, in my opinion was to open every ones eyes.

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