Chimney Sweeper Essay

Topics: Chimney sweep, William Blake, Chimney Pages: 4 (1182 words) Published: April 6, 2009
World Literature

The Comparison of The Chimney Sweeper Poems by William Blake

The Chimney Sweeper poems by English Poet William Blake are two poems that reflect the cultural realities of the 18th century in England. They are unfortunately real depictions of young people from down and out working class families who are trying to cling to any sign of hope. They are climbing up the chimneys of well-off families to clean the soot by hand, as society and the government watched unaffected.

One would think that being a romantic poet helped to inspire William Blake’s ability to describe and write about the awful circumstances that the chimney sweeps dealt with, while using such imagery and staying so fluid with his words. He easily conveys to readers the social reality, that chimney sweepers back then were young and not aware of the dangers that were associated with their jobs, or that the labor was being forced upon them by their elders and society.

William Blake first wrote The Chimney Sweeper as part of a collection called Songs of Innocence in 1789 and a few years later wrote the second one, which is from Songs of Experience in 1794. One of the main similarities of the two poems is that they both evoke strong emotion and are beautifully written. References are made to family, God, death and the afterlife in both poems. Also in both the 1789 and the 1794 versions, the author has a very disapproving attitude towards the chimney sweeping business. Readers can see such dislike in such lines as “thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack, were all of them locked up in coffins of black” from Songs of Innocence and “A little black thing among the snow: Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!” (“The Chimney Sweeper poem-William Blake”) from Songs of Experience. These verses show visuals of innocent children being subjected to harsh working conditions. The government dealt with these issues later on by passing legislations that still were not followed for...
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