English Lit Survey Essay 1

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Words: 839
Pages: 4

Leslie Holland
English Lit Survey
Dr. Clark
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 to heal through our grief. Blake’s Songs of Innocence contained a series of poems, three that were discussed in class, and the one that spoke most loudly was “The Chimney Sweeper”. Likewise, when Wordsworth’s poems were read in class, “Three Years She Grew” spoke quite loudly as well. They both contain certain aspects of nature, life, and innocence lost and yet, for their comparative similarities, they also have some definite contrasts as well. In “The Chimney Sweeper”, Blake writes about the unfortunate life of a very young child who was sold into working as a chimney sweeper just after his mother’s death. Everyday the child, probably three or four, gets up and goes looking for work, with other little chimney sweeps, one of whom he talks about named Tom Dacre. In the poem, the reader is given an insight into the loss of innocence of these chimney sweepers as they spend their days covered in soot, with little prospect of a better life, knowing they will die young. And yet, towards the end of the poem, there is almost a hope for death since they come to realize death would be an easier life for them. It would be free of soot and ashen clouds, free of coughs and so little food or sleep. The little chimney sweep dreams of death and what it will be like. He prays nightly and knows that if he lives the life he’s been given, when he dies, he will go to Heaven where his mother must be as well. Nature as shown in this poem is harsh; almost unforgiving in its conditions as seen by how the boys sleep in soot and must keep their heads shaved so that the soot doesn’t cling to them in that way. These little boys lost their innocence the moment they became sweepers as they truly had no real childhood now that they must work day and night in hopes of having even a little money to either send home or feed and clothe themselves. They are used by the rich and cast aside by their own families. They have no real idea of what childhood should be like at all. Their only real joy in life is knowing that, if they do as they are told, when they die, they will go to be with God. “Three Years She Grew” is Wordsworth’s poem in which the reader is shown the short life of a girl (whom most assume is the “Lucy” of the Lucy Poems) and how Nature takes on a duel role in life and poetry. Nature first appears to be kind and beautiful, giving life to the girl and showing how beautiful and full of life she is in the short…