Blake – Songs of Innocence and Experience: the Chimney Sweeper

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William Blake: a man with ideas far ahead of his time, a dreamer, and had true poetic talent. Blake was an engraver, who wrote two groups of corresponding poems, namely The Songs of Experience, and The Songs of Innocence. Songs of Innocence was written originally as poems for children, but was later paired up with The Songs of Experience, which he wrote to highlight what he felt were society’s most prominent problems. This essay will be focusing on ‘The Chimney Sweeper.’ Firstly, I’ll look at The Chimney Sweeper from Innocence. The poem uses the ‘A A B B’ rhyming scheme, i.e. young, tongue, weep, sleep. This makes the poem sound good when it’s read aloud. It also flows better. This pattern continues throughout. The poem is about a chimney sweep who’s had a hard time, first having lost his mother, and then was sold by his father. This could have been aimed at the way children were treated in his time, as they were bought and sold like animals. Blake had even seen a young boy chained to a wall. Later in the poem, the chimney sweeps are saved by an angel, who ‘opens the coffins.’ The reference to coffins meant was linked to the deaths of chimney sweeps, and the death involved in their work. Also, where it says ‘all their bags left behind’ that means the boys leave their worries behind. The fourth and fifth verses are about going to heaven, and was meant to teach the children that at the end of life’s strugles, there’d be safety with God. Although Blake didn’t like The Church, he did believe in God, and taught the belief of God in many of his poems. In the last verse, Tom (the boy mentioned earlier on) awakes, and it turns out that going to heaven was a dream, however, the poem teaches you that as long as you do your duty, you’ll make it to heaven. The Songs of Experience version of the poem follows the same rhyme scheme, and so is almost an exploration and extention of the last poem. The poem starts in much the same way, with the child crying, and his parents...
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