Chimney Sweeper

In: English and Literature

Submitted By imdillon
Words 630
Pages 3
Kelsey Rice
Mr. Ortolani
ELA 12
2 February 2016
The Chimney Sweeper
In the late 18th century, an English poet by the name of William Blake wrote two poems about the young sweeps he saw suffering in the beautiful streets of London. He placed one poem in the Songs of Innocence and the other in the Songs of Experience. Innocence and Experience were printed in two phases. In 1789, Blake published of The Songs of Innocence and in 1794, he decided to link them together. Blake, therefore, confirmed his interest in duality at the very beginning in the 1794 edition. When he acquired the fate of chimney sweeps as the topic for a poem in both Innocence and Experience, he gave us at least two ways of seeing and understanding the same social predicament.
By comparing Blake’s two ‘Chimney Sweeper’ poems, we can get some logic of his state of mind around innocence and experience as ‘contrary states’. The sweep in Innocence doesn’t recognize the life in which he finds himself. “And my father sold me while yet my tongue could scarcely cry ‘Weep! ‘Weep!’ ‘Weep!” This is one of the many poetic strategies that Blake uses. The repetitive word ‘weep’ is used to show that the child’s language is not sufficient to make sense of his sorrowfulness. He does not know that he has been taught a fabricated language, which makes him believe that sorrow must be a fact of everyday life. Blake proposes that as there is a slight difference in the way the words sound to our ears, so there is little difference in what the words mean to the child.
The tiny child who narrates the Song from Innocence, makes innocence a much more frightening state than experience. The chimney sweeper of Experience knows his position is one of ‘misery’ and angrily faults society for it. Like the child of Innocence he cries ‘weep weep’ and Blake again puns on the comparison of sound concerning ‘weep’ and ‘sweep’. The…...

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