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BLAKE - The Chimney Sweeper (from Songs of Innocence)


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The Chimney Sweeper  (from Songs of Innocence)


Who is the speaker?

A little chimney sweeper.

What happened to him w 222h75c hen he was very small?

His father sold him.

Is the boy's father, mentioned in the first stanza, coherent with Blake's view of the father figure? In what way?

Yes, he is cruel and unfeeling.

What is a chimney sweeper? Why were children used to do this job?

Little boys were used to clean chimneys because they were small and could climb up the narrow chimney.

Who is Tom Dacre?

Another chimney sweeper

Why did Tom cry?

Because his head was shaved

How did the little boy comfort him?

By saying that he wouldn't get his hair dirty

What did Tom dream?

That an angel came and freed all the little boys. They washed in the river and played in the clouds.

What did the angel in the dream promise Tom?

That if he would he good, God would look after him and make him happy

What did Tom do when he woke?

He went to work

How did he feel?

Happy and warm


What is the rhyme scheme of  "The Chimney Sweeper" and what effect does it create?

AABB. An effect of childlike simplicity.


Give at least two adjectives to describe the vocabulary used in the poem.

Simple, childlike

The word "weep" in Blake's poetry is the cry of experience. Bearing this is mind, explain in your own words the second and third lines of the poem.

My father sold me while I was still very young and innocent.

Write the words associated with the idea of light and cleanliness.

Lamb's back (6), white hair (line8), Angel, bright key (13), green plain (15), wash/river, shine/sun (16), naked, white (17), clouds.

Mention the words associated with darkness and dirt.

Soot (4-8), coffins of black (12), dark (21), bags and brushes (22).


What do you think the black coffins in Tom's dream symbolize?

The dirty chimney or the boys' dirty bodies.

What does the angel represent?


What adjectives best describe the little boy's inability to make moral judgements?

Poignant, depressing, pathetic.

What is the tone of the poem like?

Ironic. The irony is not the speaker's, but the reader understands the irony of the trust in the angel.

The little chimney sweeper is a symbol of innocence. What are the consequences in his case?

The child continues to suffer and be exploited. The angel's false promise makes him accept his situation.


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