William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” (Songs of Innocence) and William Wordworth’s “We Are Seven” examine naivety and innocence in a much different manner. The two poems deal with children and their respective methods of coping with tragedy in their lives. In both poems, the children deal with adversity by relying on denial, but the two poets use different tones to impart to the reader their specific views on innocence and denial. Blake treats innocence with disdain and mocks the conventional view of innocence as bliss. Wordsworth treats innocence with awe and does not view naivety with the negativity that Blake does. While both are considered Romantic poets, they vary in how they handle the issue of imagination and the relation of innocence and experience in the writing of poetry. “The Chimney Sweeper” portrays a young chimney sweeper’s life and the way he chooses to deal with the hardships he encounters. The young man in the poem is ensconced in innocence and remains so throughout the poem. James Harrison writes of the young man, “The speaker is older; his days of proclaiming his calling in life to be ‘weep! weep! weep! weep!’ are far enough behind him to comfort Tom when the latter’s head must be shaved. However, though his few years’ seniority have given him a protective sense of responsibility, they have robbed him of little if any of his innocence.” (1) Blake keeps the young men entrenched in innocence throughout the poem to highlight the damage innocence can cause if it never evolves into experience. The subject of the poem and his companions cling to the optimistic dream of Tom Dacre and do not dwell on their miserable existence. Tom is their instructor, but instead of leading them into experience, he grounds them in innocence and naivety. He gives them false hope with his dream offering the promise of eternal happiness with God. The imagery surrounding Tom is that of ultimate innocence, a lamb, and the other children become lamb-like followers as well. Imagery of good versus evil abounds in the poem. The colors black and white are used to show the concrete difference between good and evil. In Tom’s dream the children are naked and white which alludes to purity and innocence. The soot of the chimneys personifies pure evil because it is corrupting these innocent children, using them and throwing them away. He also uses darkness and light effectively in the poem. In Tom’s dream the children bathe in the river and shine in the sun after being set free from their coffins. The light is associated with the angel and the happiness of the children after being released from their bondage. This is in opposition to the last stanza in which Tom wakes up in the dark to begin his toil. The evil reality is that these children are separated from their families and performing a terrible job and this happens in the dark. In “The Chimney Sweeper” Blake has the reader believe the children have accepted their lot in life and have naïve illusions about their future. The child in the poem is unrealistically optimistic, clinging to a dream of a friend. He does not even have a dream or vision of his own. The reader knows the tragic life this boy will have, so the false hope of the child is ironic and pathetic. Blake viewed complacency (innocence) as dangerous, so the tone of this poem is disdainful toward innocence and the adults that facilitated the terrible situation. Blake does not embrace blissful childhood and almost mocks their attempt at avoiding their bleak fate by clinging to a clichéd moral in the end of the poem. The poem ends with the decree that if they work hard they should not feel fear, but the reader realizes it is because they work hard they will come to great harm and most likely an early death. Though all of this is subversive and visible only to the reader. “We Are Seven” chronicles a conversation between an adult, the voice of experience, and a child. The child continues to answer…
With both The Chimney Sweeper: Songs of Innocence and The Chimney Sweeper: Songs of Experience, William Blake describes the poor conditions of children who worked as chimney sweepers. Although both of these poem are similar because they both express imagery about the concern of the bad conditions for child chimney sweepers, these poems also differ in tone and some details concerning the mistreatment of children.
William Blake makes both of these poems very similar…
Analysis of “The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake
William Blake was a 19th century writer and artist who was a big influence for the Romantic Age. Blake was born, 1757 in London, England, Blake began writing at an early age and studied engraving and loved Gothic Art, Blake only briefly attended school, being primarily educated at home by his mother. In August 1782, Blake married Catherine Boucher, who was uneducated, so he then taught her how to read, write draw and color. Blake was a 19th century…
English Lit Survey
September 13, 2014
Comparing and Contrasting “The Chimney Sweeper” and “Three Years She Grew”
As Romantic writers of their time, both William Blake and William Wordsworth wrote about what they would experience in life, spirituality, and nature. Blake wrote more about life experiences, the innocence of children and the innocence found in nature while Wordsworth wrote more about nature’s ability to remove life and innocence and leave us broken but able…
Stanzas two and three
These two stanzas come from a poem called “London,” which is written in the book Songs of Experience, by William Blake. The poem is written in the first person perspective of, presumably, a man, since the poem is written by a male, in the city of London. The man is wandering at night, focusing on what he hears in the “charter’d street” (Blake 1). He also makes a point to describe the Thames River as “charter’d” (2), when describing its nearby location. This repetition of the…
Proff. Brian Gott
02 March 2015
The Chimney Sweeper songs of Innocence and Experience
The poems The chimney Sweeper songs of Innocence and The Chimney sweeper songs of Experience are both written by William Blake. The poems are about children that are forced to sweep chimneys. These poems are very alike despite being written 5 years apart. Even though the titles of the poems are nearly the same the tones of the poems are different.
One of the difference…
Black Heaven (“The Chimney Sweepers”)
William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” portrays the life of young chimneysweepers in the late 18th century through imagery. In the two versions of “The Chimney Sweepers,” the story of the chimneysweepers remains consistent, such as emotion, but tone and language changes between the two.
In the 1789 version of “The Chimney Sweepers,” William Blake conveys the poem in a story-like manner. By beginning, with the lines “When my mother died,” Blake acts as though he…
Sylvia Plath, ‘You’re’ (B.L.C.A.)
Sylvia Plath, ‘Blackberrying’
William Blake, ‘Infant Joy’ and ‘Infant Sorrow’
William Blake, THE Chimney Sweeper’
William Blake, ‘LONDON’
Maureen Watson, ‘Stepping Out’ (B.L.C.A.)
Bobbi Sykes, ‘One Day’ (B.L.C.A.)
The work of poets such as Sylvia Plath and William Blake present a predominantly despairing view of the world. It is evident that hope and despair, however, go hand in hand and Blake in particular explores the contrasts between the two. Similarly, poets…
The poem “London” written by William Blake is very interesting but at the same time is also very dark and depressing. It tells a short story of someone (possibly Blake) walking through London in the late 1700’s and everything he sees and makes note of. The poem is basically just a compilation of observations taken by the speaker, but has a political statement within it also. Due to the dark nature of the poem, it seems that Blake is trying to show the people of London that what goes on there is…
London, Blake uses abstract and sensory imagery to reveal the how life is being lived within the city of London. In 1794, at the time of the poem, London had a complicated mix of failing and prosperous communities. In the poem, Blake reveals, through imagery, the sadness inside of the people living in a failing part of London and also the future of the city as a result of poor governance and misfortune.
In 1794, London was seen as the epitome of a flourishing city. A revolution was emerging; Blake ironically…
the sing-song quality of the last three lines support the pacing of the story?
William Blake, “The Lamb,” “The Chimney Sweeper (Innocence),” “Holy Thursday (Innocence)”
Each of these poems explores the theme of innocence by discussing children at work. Identify each poem’s meter, and then discuss how this type of meter and rhyme is supportive of the poem’s theme.
William Blake, “The Tyger,” “The Chimney Sweeper (Experience),” and “Holy Thursday (Experience)”
Each of these poems explores the theme…