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The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake
Transcript of The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake
(Songs of Innocence)
Poetry Presentation Project
AP English II/P.6
20 February 2013
Born on November 28, 1757
He was a poet, painter, engraver, and printmaker
Learned to read and write at home
Enrolled in Henry Pars's drawing school
As a child, Blake viewed the world in the light of "visionary gleam"
He started writing poetry at the age of twelve
Blake married Catherine Boucher
In August 1803, he was charged of assault and sedition
Died at the age of sixty-nine on August 12, 1827
"Songs of Innocence" was published in 1789
Response to social and economic changes
Forced to do backbreaking labor
Due to poverty, children are sold to "masters"
Most of the children gets injured, sick, or die
Six rhyming quatrains
AABB CCDD EEFF GGHH IIJJ KKLL rhyme scheme
Anapestic iambic tetrameter
Two rhyming couplets per quatrain
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.
Stanza 1: Analysis
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."
Stanza 2: Analysis
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.
Stanza 3: Analysis
And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the Sun.
Stanza 4: Analysis
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.
Stanza 5: Analysis
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.
Stanza 6: Analysis
"The Chimney Sweeper"
from Songs of Innocence
"The Chimney Sweeper"
from Songs of Experience
Mentions "Tom Dacre" to show realism
Simile: "curled like a lamb's back"
It's a notion of innocence, but soon takes it away by mentioning "was shaved"
Symbol: lamb (youth, innocence, purity)
"shaved hair" to prevent soot and vermin from getting into their hair
Contrast between Tom's curly, white hair and the greasy, black soot
Direct quotation shows the speaker's voice has changed
What's the difference between the first quotation and the second quotation?
Dark and depressing tone ("died," "sold," "cry")
Orphaned then indentured
Metonymy ("tongue" refers to the speaker's voice
"'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!" instead of "sweep"
Pathos helps to drive the sympathetic mood
"your chimneys" engages with the reader
"in soot I sleep" meaning they sleep in their death bed or their clothes that's filled with soot
"duty" meaning they accept their positions
Escapes reality into a dream
What do you notice about the names?
"coffins" symbolizes death
Metaphor: "coffins" represents the chimney or their current state of affairs
Allusion: "bright key"
"opened the coffins and set them all free" meaning that death is the only way out
Diction: "bright, "leaping," "laughing," "shine"
The "river" is a natural landscape
Unlike chimneys it represents smoke, soot, pollution, and industrialization
"naked and white" shows innocence of a child
"bags left behind" meaning they are burden free
Emphasizes the way to heaven
"The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)." Shmoop: Homework Help, Teacher Resources, Test Prep. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <http://www.shmoop.com/chimney-sweeper-innocence/>.
"William Blake Archive Chronology." The William Blake Archive Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/chronology.html>.
"William Blake Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.com ." Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com . N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/william-blake-9214491?page=1>.