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Chimney -Sweeper, The Analysis



Author: Poetry of William Blake Type: Poetry Views: 9125





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 let 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.








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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

The first stanza highlights the fact that boys as young as five were apprenticed by their
parents to master sweepers in what amounted to both child labor and involuntary servitude.Throughout the first three stanzas,I think that Blake uses powerful imagery to illustrate the terrible conditions in which the children worked. The soot in which the narrator sleeps is not metaphorical, but literal—“climbing boys did indeed sleep on the bags of soot they swept”. Blake describes an environment in which the boys were surrounded by soot to represent the soot that was in the boys’ lungs. Also, the “coffins of black” represented “the narrow chimneys in which children sometimes got stuck and suffocated”

| Posted on 2012-09-10 | by a guest


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I believe it is overly simplistic to label the poem as mere political satire.I do not think the dream is offered as a mere illusory trick created by the religous institutions of the time (although these were rife at the time). This poem is touching because Blake unveils the child\'s ability to conjure a \"greater\"(more just) reality in the land of dreams , a world that the cruel society of adults has lost touch with.
In fact, the dream is upheld as an ancient standard, transcendant to the physical reality of the boy.. that everyday society should aspire and not lose sight of. Furthermore, the poem somehow takes you to this lofty otherworld, which to me is the true magic of Blake.

| Posted on 2011-10-31 | by a guest


.: :.

You know, I see here that it can be interpreted that a central theme is how faith and hard work will take you to an afterlife of joy and happiness BUT I do not think this correctly analyses Blake\'s tone or motive for this poem. As some have said, he is really commentating on how naive and horrifying it is that innocent children would be allowed to live like this. The church/ religion gives them a hope that unfairly convinces them that they should be content with their lives and continue working. The thoughts of Angels, green fields, and laughter are distant illusions from reality that the church has weaved before their eyes. When \"Tom Awoke\" to the real world in the last stanza, they continue their duties in the \"dark\" and \"cold\" world. Tom\'s thoughts \"were happy and warm\", but he has convinced himself of this and accepts the chains that his life is bound by. This goes back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden and how God tells Adam not to eat the fruit of knowledge. Man should live in bliss and ignorance; blind faith. Unhappiness will follow with the truth. Philosophers such as Socrates and Plato have fiercely and strongly opposed this type of human submission (advocate quest for knowledge), and I argue that Blake does this as well with his sarcasm in this poem. Blind faith is what the church outwardly advocates much of the time (and that’s fine), but in this poem, it is contrasted with such a dismal shameful reality, that the reader cannot help but beg the children to question their faith, for what is a world, where the youth \"need not fear harm\" because they welcome death with open arms...

| Posted on 2011-09-17 | by a guest


.: :.

wow these responses gave me a great view on this poem
i too agree this is alot to do with innocence and if reading it metaphorically a definite jab at the church
father being the church that sold the child for labor and the mother being the earth that was industrialized and destroyed by the industrial revolution

| Posted on 2011-09-13 | by a guest


.: :.

Through this poem blake celebrates the childz innocence.
He talks of the very fact that if we follow our karma,
Angels will take care of us and that the traumatised life of the poor chimney sweepers is reflected upon herein!
Aastha mathur

| Posted on 2011-08-28 | by a guest


.: :.

blake\'s is always viewed as a revolutionary poet, and i think this poem confirms his reputation.though the chimney sweeper is a satire to the dreadful living and working conditions of the young chimney sweep, the poem ends in a joyful tone: there is a kind of rebirth, spiritual awakening.i think one of blake\'s objectives in writing this poem was to tell us that one can find happiness even under hardships.

| Posted on 2011-04-16 | by a guest


.: :.

I agree. I believe that Tom Dacre is a symbol of purity and righteousness. He is dehumanized by having his head shaved and being striped of his clothes, showing the contrast between innocence and experience. He is naive and believes that by following the instructions of the adults he will get into heaven. In stanza 6 he simply awakes from a dream, content with the fact that there is hope.

| Posted on 2011-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

I agree. I believe that Tom Dacre is a symbol of purity and righteousness. He is dehumanized by having his head shaved and being striped of his clothes, showing the contrast between innocence and experience. He is naive and believes that by following the instructions of the adults he will get into heaven. In stanza 6 he simply awakes from a dream, content with the fact that there is hope.

| Posted on 2011-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem can look like Tom is experiencing visionary joy for spiritual comfort. Which makes sense. But this is actually social/political satire. Blake is teasing the church and government. So don\'t over think it.

| Posted on 2011-03-07 | by a guest


.: :.

William Blake is trying to say how the church is brain washing the children into thinking that if they work hard, they will get into heaven. That way, they can get away with child labour.

| Posted on 2011-02-13 | by a guest


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Tom is not DEAD, he just woke up from his dream like the poem said.
The message of the poem is how if everyone worked hard and finish their job, they will eventually be rewarded and sent to heaven. This supports the \'songs of innocence\' because it demonstrates the naivety of the kids.

| Posted on 2011-01-11 | by a guest


.: :.

Tom is not DEAD, he just woke up from his dream like the poem said.
The message of the poem is how if everyone worked hard and finish their job, they will eventually be rewarded and sent to heaven. This supports the \'songs of innocence\' because it demonstrates the naivety of the kids.

| Posted on 2011-01-11 | by a guest


.: :.

Interestingly, the \"\'weep! \'weep! \'weep! \'weep!\" isn\'t refering to a child crying or innocence. Its following the line \"My father sold me while yet my toungue could scarcely cry...\" and is refering to the children\'s lisping effort to say \"sweep,\" as he walks the streets looking for work. Selling children as indentured servants was common in Blake\'s day, usually for 7 years or until they were to big to climb the chiminey\'s anymore, which they did naked. Its a clever attack at child labour, and a shot at the church for supporting such child labour.

| Posted on 2010-12-13 | by a guest


.: :.

I think the poem talks about how children are innocent because of the actions of adults. The more they are mistrated the more they are loving. Also When you are brought down there is someone to bring you back up. Lastly it makes death seem peaceful. That according to your actions it will lead you to joy or torture.

| Posted on 2010-11-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is an amazing piece of work by Blake and it is really interesting to see what others have said about it. I think the poem could also be a metaphor for Blakes own life as a child however i find it fascinating that this man was never recognised until after he died. he had such a talent for writing poetry.

| Posted on 2010-11-01 | by a guest


.: :.

really good peom, whoever nancy is, total douche !!

| Posted on 2010-10-12 | by a guest


.: :.

tom dacre is an innocent little boy and show fear. after he had the dream he had a better attitude to his work and he knew he had something to look forward to

| Posted on 2010-10-10 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem has strong religouos tones and shows how a childs innocence can help protect him from a harsh reality.

| Posted on 2010-07-29 | by a guest


.: :.

The 1st Staza:
1. The Semantic field is of hard work and cruelty
2. 'my father sold me' shows the desperate need for money, readyness of child labour and the large orphan rate on the streets
3. "weep!" etc is allision and repitition
4. 'chimneys I sweep' shows that it is dangerous work
5. 'in soot I sleep' No care for the workers, and no home
6. There are rhyming couplets

| Posted on 2010-06-01 | by a guest


.: :.

According to me, in this case coffin symbolizes death while the angel with a bright key symbolizes ray of hope of life.But I wanna know what does the ray of hope after the symbol of death stands for?

| Posted on 2010-05-21 | by a guest


.: :.

i think this poem is also link to SONG OF EXPERIENCE and SONG OF INNOCENCE

| Posted on 2010-05-09 | by a guest


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i think in the last stanza tom died . because it says tom AWOKE (died)and we ROSE(wake up) in the dark
we got our bags,TOM WAS HAPPY
with these lines i guess , tom is dead and other children woke up and went to work.

| Posted on 2010-05-08 | by a guest


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I think the best poet in the world is John Phillips, check him out xx

| Posted on 2010-04-20 | by a guest


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IT IS A VERY SAD POEM TELLING US ABOUT LABOUR.THE POEM REALLY TOUCHED MY HEART

| Posted on 2010-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem is not about child labour. It is about the church brain washing the children. The fatehr he speaks of is the church.The mother is mother nature that was destroyed because of the industrial revolution.There are symbols such as naked and white which mean purity, the purity that they had before the church was supporting child labours, it is shown by "if he'd be a good boy" referring to not rebelling becaus the church supported the industrial revolution.

| Posted on 2010-04-01 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem is not about child labour. It is about the church brain washing the children. The fatehr he speaks of is the church.The mother is mother nature that was destroyed because of the industrial revolution.There are symbols such as naked and white which mean purity, the purity that they had before the church was supporting child labours, it is shown by "if he'd be a good boy" referring to not rebelling becaus the church supported the industrial revolution.

| Posted on 2010-04-01 | by a guest


.: :.

OMG!!! dat is great fanku guys 4 da amazing anas :-P

| Posted on 2010-03-23 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe than Nancy Arnold should be a chimney sweeper

| Posted on 2010-03-12 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe this poem was to eat the lines of mercy a day after the morning before the night of the last sun.

| Posted on 2009-10-21 | by a guest


.: :.

the first peom william wrote in 1789 he was for child labor
but now in 1794 he is againt the cruelty of child labor

| Posted on 2009-09-21 | by a guest


.: :.

you guys are really good students you really helped me understand this poem thanks alot love you!!!

| Posted on 2009-08-26 | by a guest


.: :.

The person that said:
i have to us this dam poem for a class project. It will be good probably
| Posted on 2009-04-13 | by a guest
Lern 2 englishs.

| Posted on 2009-07-22 | by a guest


.: :.

To me the poem seems to one of the very important tools as far as fighting against child labour is concerned and it claery shows what happens to these little boys who have no body to take care of them, blake shows the strong potrayal of what is going on even in todays world. kazinja dar es salaam

| Posted on 2009-06-30 | by a guest


.: :.

it is a good poem
the only flaw in it is that its advertising child labour

| Posted on 2009-06-24 | by a guest


.: :.

there is a rhyming scheme in this poem i am trying to remeber what it is called?
"...I was very young"
"... while yet my tounge"
when the the two lines only rhyme with the ending word what is that called?

| Posted on 2009-06-14 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem is far less optimistic than the general consensus seems to be. The final line 'so if all do their duty they need not fear harm' seems infact to be an either overly naive response as a summary of the poem, which seems too overtly simplistic for Blake, or it could be a cynical and angry response to a religious idea that justifies the suffering of these children. The final line is begging for a Marxist style analysis.
Also the line "'weep, 'weep" is reapeated in many of the following poems of innocence, implying something of the ecchoing of innocence that is shown in the 'ecchoing green' earlier in the collection.

| Posted on 2009-06-09 | by a guest


.: :.

You guys are all tools. Library kids to say the least. Go farm kara scrubs

| Posted on 2009-04-23 | by a guest


.: :.

i have to us this dam poem for a class project. It will be good probably

| Posted on 2009-04-13 | by a guest


.: :.

First, Nancy Arnold, if you have nothing to tell us except for your own stupid problems, don't tell us anything. We don't care about if you go to lodge school or not. Okay, I totaly agree that this poem is a work of art.
There's little Tom Dacre who cried when his head,
That'd curl'd like a lamb's back, was shav'd: so i said,
Hush tom never mind it for when you head's bare
you know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.
I think this stanza meant innocnece. Lamb= innocence white hair=innocence

| Posted on 2009-04-06 | by a guest


.: :.

Dear Nancy Arnold,I think it was very stupid on your part to express yourself in such an unruly manner.Please if you have nothing intellectually inclined to say,don't say anything at all.Please watch your language

| Posted on 2009-03-31 | by a guest




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