"The Chimney Sweeper" 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 & in soot I sleep.
Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curl’s like a lambs back, was shav’d, 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, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight,
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open’d the coffins & 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 & 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 & never want joy.
And so Tom awoke and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Tho’ the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm.
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
A dramatic monologue is a type of poem in which the speaker appears to be talking to an unseen audience. It is a way of telling a story through the words of poetry.
In this dramatic monologue the speaker is a "Chimney Sweep". He tells his story of his mother's death and father's having "sold [him] while yet [his] tongue, Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep." The speaker, however, does not stay on the subject of his own life for long. Instead, he talks about Tom Dacre who is a new child just sold to be a new chimney sweeper. When he "cried when his head That curl’s like a lambs back, was shav’d" his innocence is shown. He is unaware of what is to come for him and the speaker acts as a guide for him.
The dream that Tom has is significant to the conditions of chimney sweeps at this time in history. They were forced to live in terrible conditions, sleeping on the bags of soot that they had swept that day--shown in the phrase "in soot I sleep." However, Tom dreams of the young chimney sweeps locked in black coffins which are symbolic for the suppression of these boys. When the angel comes to free them from their coffins, Tom is dreaming of being released to freedom along with the other chimney sweeps. He has an innocent view of the situation he is in.
In having this dream, Tom is able to realize that one day he will be freed from the situation he is now in. The "Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, /He’d have God for his father & never want joy." In otherwords, if Tom has faith in God then he will be rewarded some day. Therefore, Tom wakes up the next morning happy to do his work along with the other chimney sweeps.
COMMENT ON THESE QUESTIONS! =)
Do you guys think this is a political statement in any way? What could William Blake be commenting on? Does it go further than simply chimney sweepers? How does he view religion as a force in one's life?
Shape--> "My Body"
8 years ago