The Poem ''Chimney Sweeper'' by William Blake.
Who is William Blake?
William Blake (1757-1827) is sometimes mistakenly grouped with romantic poets but Blake was not a romantic poet. William Wordsworth is considered as the father of romanticism in England. And Blake is older than Wordsworth so he could not be a follower of Wordsworth. Blake was a man of his own type. In his poems he had some of the romantic elements. Blake had a very vivid imagination, once he claimed that God has put his head into his room through the window.
In the lifetime of Blake he was not recognized as a serious poet. He questioned the conventional ideas. People at that time thought that cities like London are paradises but Blake showed that those cities are like prisons in his poem ''London'' and in the poem ''Garden of Love'' he criticized the church for binding people with negative precepts. In those times he was treated as a mad man and after his poetry was recognized, that they include serious ideas.
The poem ''Chimney Sweeper''
Background of the poem.
During the days of William Blake the people in England used to gather around the fire place, for warmth and especially during the winter. They have used either firewood or coal as fuel. Therefore, the fire place and chimney got blackened by the soot. These chimneys were in the shape of funnels so that the top of them were not very wide but a small one can go to the top of that chimney whenever they want to clean it. Therefore, small boys just over 3-4 years were occupied as chimney sweepers by the capitalists. During these days, fathers and mothers had no time to spend on their children but to earn money to live. The children either has to be sent to a workshop somewhere or else they are sold, as a apprentices. Chimney sweeping is the hardest job ever a small boy can do. On the other hand it was a risky job and so many children met with accidents fallen from the chimney to die or else they would have a slow death because of the soot they inhale. In such a scenario, Blake voices the cry of chimney sweepers either single-parented or parent-less. According to the modern critics Blake is not only a romantic poet but also a social critic who pinpointed the social flaws as well as the individual flaws by composing poetry.
According to the title the speaker is a chimney sweeper who's mother is dead and has only his father as a parent.
He says that even before he could cry ''weep! weep! weep!'' he had to work as a chimney sweeper and sleep in soot as his father sold him.
In the second stanza the speaker reminds of his friend 'Tom Dacre' who cried when his head was shaved and loose his curly hair like lamb's back. So the speaker consoled Tom showing the benifits of a bare hair. He says that when it is shaved you won't get any soot in your white hair.
He was quietened by the speaker and fell asleep to see a dream that further consoling. In his dream Tom saw thousands of chimney sweepers including his friends Dick, Joe, Ned and Jack were locked up in coffins.
There was an angel who open the coffins with a bright key and set them all free to play leaping, laughing, running etc. and washing in a river down a green plane which has a lot of sun.
Then all of them left their bags behind as they washed in the river. They are naked and fair and they float in the sky and rise upon the clouds. the angel told Tom that if he had being a good boy he will be happy and have God for his father.
After seeing this dream Tom is awakened and both the speaker and Tom happily off for their work having their bags and brushes with the hope that God will be their father. So if all who do their duty are cared by God
The Rhyming Scheme.
There are six quatrains each following the ''a a b b'' rhyme scheme with two rhyming couplets per quatrain.
E.g- young - tongue (line 1 and 2)
weep - sleep (line 3 and 4)