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"The Chimney Sweeper" and "Seventeen"
Transcript of "The Chimney Sweeper" and "Seventeen"
"The Chimney Sweeper" William Blake
(1757-1827) •Was an English poet, engraver, and painter who was rebellious in his thought and art by exploring important issues in politics, religion, and psychology. •Write a well-organized essay in which you discuss how the imagery of the last 3 stanzas is related to and different from the imagery of the first 3 stanzas. Explain how this difference determines the tone and meaning of the poem as a whole. Major Techniques •Blake was considered insane and his reputation as a visionary grew only after his death. •He published "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" which contains his most widely read poetry in 1974 after having separately published "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience". Together, these two works are considered necessary to progress towards Divine Humanity. •"Songs of Innocence," the first published location of "The Chimney Sweeper,"explores the hardships faced by the innocents of the world. Symbol: A person, object, image, word, or event that evokes a range of additional meaning beyond its literal significance.
Allegory: A narration restricted to a single meaning because its events, actions, characters, settings, and objects represent specific ideas.
Irony: The use of contradictory statements or situations to reveal a reality different from what appears to be true. In response to the prompt.. Symbols:
•Tom is compared to the lamb with his white hair that "curled like a lamb's back" and both Tom and the lamb are symbols of innocence. In this biblical allusion, the poem brings the reader back to a world of shepherds and sheep where society is the master and the boys are the sheep.
•The Angel functions as a symbol for the religious aspect of Tom's dream. Besides the literal Angel, a servant of God, the Angel may symbolize the caring people who wish to guide the children to better lives. No sweepers are left behind in Tom's dream, symbolic that all the children are God's children.
•The "coffins of black" are symbolic for they represent how the work in the chimneys will lead the boys to an early death. The chimneys literally are the "coffins of black"
•The bags left behind are symbols for the emotional baggage of their experiences which they no longer have to face once they enter heaven.
•Through Tom's allegorical dream, he functions as a Christ-like figure who sacrificed for the comfort of the rest of society. The children wash in a river cleaning away the sins and soot and are as naked and innocent as they were when they were first introduced to the world. The children proceed to "rise upon clouds" as a symbol for baptism towards the end of his dream.
•While the Angel does help the children escape the nightmarish lives they live, the Angel can only do so through either dreams or death. The Angel, typically thought of to guide, in this poem guides the children back to the path that society maintains. The Angel comforts Tom and the other children telling them they will be rewarded in the end, but it is only in the end that they will not work in the chimneys. Religion is used here to justify exploitation of labor because through the motive the Angel gives Tom, he is kept at work and pleasing society.
•The last line of the poem reads "So if all do their duty they need not fear harm". The public isn't doing their duty to keep the children safe if they are letting them believe that doing this work is their "duty" and as a result, the children fear death in a "coffin of black".
•Although this was originally published under "Songs of Innocence" the majority of the innocent aspect of the children has been stripped from them. The boys are already working at such a young age and basically have no childhood and can only play in their dreams. They do, however, maintain the naivete that a child would have when Tom easily expresses in the end that he is content with the conditions. •Lyrical poem consisting of six quatrains•Rhyme scheme- a series of rhyming couplets (AABB CCDD etc.)
•Anapestic Iambic Tetrameter
•As the poem progresses, the rhyme becomes less regular and becomes slant rhyme which leaves the reader with an unsettling feeling.
•First person point of view
•His word choice before the shift was darker with words such as night, black, sleep, & quiet. After the shift his word choice is happier with words such as bright, sun, shine, & white.
•After the second stanza, the settings shifts to Tom's dream, and after the fifth stanza, returns to the chimneys in reality.
•The tone shifts from melancholic to serene as told by the speaker.
Theme: A person in a state of innocence might see certain entities quite differently than would a person who has reached maturity.
Allusions: the poem contains religious allusions such as the lamb and the shepherd, baptism, resurrection, and Angels.
Archetypes: The Innocent and The Orphan •The second line of the poem "and my father sold me" compares the chimney sweepers to slaves. Later on in the poem this is further explored with the line "Were all of them locked up in coffins of black." The children are confined in their lives to sweeping and have nothing else, similar to that of a slave.
•Blake tries to give the readers moral strength to take on their role as civil servants and to no longer be held under the power of the church. Andrew Hudgins
(1951-present) His family followed his father, a career Air Force officer to New Mexico, England, Ohio, North Carolina, California, and France.
Despite this apparent nomadic lifestyle, Hudgins considers himself a southerner and derives much of the material for his poems from the idioms, images, and folkways of the Deep South having gone to high school in Alabama. Hudgins was runner-up for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize and has fellowships with many literary foundations.
His poetry is known for its dark humor, formal control, and adept handling of voice. Major Techniques Narrative poem recalling a moment when the speaker was seventeen.
Told in first person point of view
Hudgins uses a more modern open-form, free-verse style with conventional and simple word choice - colloquialism.
The use of enjambment between stanzas represents the flow of life
He describes his poem as a "rite of passage"
Tone: Disappointing/Bitter --> Sanguine/Light
The imagery is very vivid and the reader can create a mental picture of the dog tumbling on the asphalt and scrambling into the air. Also, images are created when the truck speeds away "spraying gravel" and when his hands "swept up and down again"
The title is simple are refers to the period between 16 and 18 when many life lessons are learned and when a teenager starts turning into a young adult.
The poem is an allegory of life events and shows how the reader matures over time when he exclaims that he now knows the name of the weeds, but then he didn't. Symbols:
Hudgins described his poem as a "rite of passage" and through the use of the death of the dog this is further explored.
Symbolically, the death of the dog helps the reader explore how to handle death when it unexpectedly shows up in life. The narrator takes out his anger when he understands that "The first/ blow did the job, but I had planned for two." Whether this is innocence and not knowing when enough is enough or if this his method of coping with the death is really unknown and can be explored both ways because the narrator is only a young seventeen year old boy. He then diverges into another topic which talks about the weeds, the gnats and the truck which drove away which may also be another method of coping
Since the boy understands what must happen to the dog and he so easily "takes care" of the situation, one can infer that this experience helps him mature into an adult because he knows what must be done. On the other hand, though, the speaker expects a beating from the other character in the poem (probably his father), so he may already have been introduced to violence early in his life.
The boy understands that people can very easily walk (or in this case, drive) away from situations and that some things need to be dealt with rather than left alone.
The colors of the plants in the end of the poem (orange, purple, and blue) contrast those from the beginning of brown and asphalt. The bright colors express the boy's moving on from the situation and his coping method to get over the death of the dog.
Gnats are typically thought of as an annoyance and sometimes are connected with death and with the "loose cloud" which scatters at the end, the boy's methods of coping are presented in which he gets his mind off of the situation and moves along in a different direction.
The dog throughout the poem is never named, but the weeds in which his body lies are named and shows the importance of the situation as a whole rather than the dog's importance. The killing of the dog:
•In the third stanza, the speaker says he expects a beating from the man which is what a child would receive. Instead, the boy, much older than a child, methodically kills the dog which in turn is a more painful experience.
•This experience psychologically hurt the narrator since it was one of the defining moments in his childhood and he is much older now than he was when this occurred. Having to kill the suffering animal was more traumatic than being beaten and represents growth and maturity in his decision to kill the animal quickly rather than leaving it to suffer.
•The colors of the plants in the end of the poem (orange, purple, and blue) contrast those from the beginning of brown and asphalt. The bright colors express the boy's moving on from the situation and his coping method to get over the death of the dog. The change in colors also shows how the older narrator now has a greater appreciation or understanding of the world and no longer is as innocent as he was.
•Towards the end the extreme amount of verbs and lack of adjectives symbolize the active part this event had in the speakers growing up. Symbols: Irony: While the dog suffers death in this poem, the speaker consequentially grows and is enlightened as a result. He learns how to deal with death and how to be mature about it. The first three stanzas clearly represent the hardships and lifestyles of the young children working as chimney sweeps. The "weep’s” in the first stanza engage our senses and the reader can picture the dual meaning of this line-- a young child crying from being separated from their parents, and also a boy so young he is unable to pronounce the word "sweep". The narrator symbolically compares Tom to a lamb which helps the reader to see his innocence and also how he is a victim for others use. The "coffins of black" create a mental picture of the dark, soot-covered workplace which will lead to the children's early death and also compares their bodies covered in soot to the skin of slaves and their restrictive lives. The deep images of the horrible working conditions the orphans were put in thoroughly is explored through the symbol and image of darkness.
The last three stanzas leave the reader with a lighter and happier image of "an Angel who had a bright key" which contrasts the dark chimneys and brings light to their situation. The imagery of the boys running, leaping, and laughing down plains and shining in the sun lifts the gloomy mood and presents a more content and safe place for innocence to be. The "naked and white" boys, now clean from the dirt that once covered their bodies, depicts a joyful, pure childhood that a young boy should have. Even though in the last stanza they continue their work in the dark, young Tom is content with his situation as he waits to be reunited with the paradise he experienced. The warmth and light of God is in his body as expressed in the line “shine in the sun” and Tom keeps this even as he exits his dream and re-enters society.
The light and enjoyable imagery in the last three stanzas differs entirely from that of the dark and saddening imagery in the first three stanzas. As a result of this change in imagery, the tone shifts from melancholic to serene under the narration of a young boy through the contrasting symbols of light and dark. As the Angel had told Tom, "if he'd be a good boy,/ He'd have God for his father" which encourages the sweeps to keep working so they will go to heaven in the end. This also represents the acceptation of this mistreatment by society because, under a religious standpoint, they can use going to heaven as a mean to continue and encourage this hard labor. As the whole poem is a social commentary on the exploitation of child chimney sweeps, religion is introduced as the driving force making the conditions acceptable in society.