The poem is in first person, a very young chimney sweeper is exposing the evils of chimney sweeping as a part of the cruelties created by sudden increase in wealth. The poem was used as a broadsheet or propaganda against the evil of Chimney Sweeping.
William Blake Here is a pair of poems more familiar than many I've presented here in the monthly "Classic Poem" feature—familiar, maybe, yet with an unsettling quality that seems inexhaustible.
As in much of William Blake's writing, what I may think I know, he manages to make me wonder if I really do know. Eliot who has a way of parodying himself even while making wise observations. The truth in Eliot's remark, for me, has to do not simply with Blake's indictment of conventional churches, governments, artists but with his general, metaphysical defiance toward customary ways of understanding the universe.
The "unpleasantness of great poetry," as exemplified by Blake, is rooted in a seductively beautiful process of unbalancing and disrupting.
Great poetry gives us elaborately attractive constructions of architecture or music or landscape—while preventing us from settling comfortably into this new and engaging structure, cadence, or terrain.
I can think to myself that the poem in Songs of Innocence is more powerful than the one in Songs of Experience, because the Innocence characters—both the "I" who speaks and "little Tom Dacre"—provide, in their heartbreaking extremes of acceptance, the more devastating indictment of social and economic arrangements that sell and buy children, sending them to do crippling, fatal labor.
Advertisement By that light, the Experience poem entitled "The Chimney Sweeper," explicit and accusatory, can seem a lesser work of art. The Innocence poem is implicit and ironic. Its delusional or deceptive Angel with a bright key exposes religion as exploiting the credulous children, rather than protecting them or rescuing them.
The profoundly, utterly "innocent" speaker provides a subversive drama. But that judgment is unsettled by second thoughts: Does the irony of the Innocence poem affect me all the more—does it penetrate without seeming heavy?
And doesn't that, too, bring another, significant note of dramatic outrage? Or, to put it the question more in terms of subject matter, both poems dramatize the way religion, government, and custom collaborate in social arrangements that impose cruel treatment on some people while enhancing the lives of others for example, by cleaning their chimneys.
Does the naked, declarative quality of the Experience poem sharpen my understanding of the Innocence poem? Does the pairing hold back or forbid my understanding's tendency to become self-congratulatory or pleasantly resolved?
It is in the nature of William Blake's genius to make such questions not just literary but moral. There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
Jan 22, · This is a review of the two versions of the poem "The Chimney Sweeper" by William Blake. It is an in-depth analysis of the two poems as well as how they relate to each regardbouddhiste.coms: 1. Sep 14, · William Blake's two poems called "The Chimney Sweeper" create art by keeping us uncomfortable. As you've probably guessed by now, many of the poems in Songs of Innocence, like "The Chimney Sweeper," are about the ways in which childhood innocence is destroyed, taken away, or ruined by mean old adults. For Blake, innocence is, in many ways, a total joke.
Post your questions and comments on the work, and he'll respond and participate. You can also browse "Fray" discussions of previous classic poems.After introducing us to Tom, he relates a very strange dream that Tom had one night (it involved chimney sweepers in coffins, angels, flying, and a few other bizarre things).
The poem concludes with Tom and the speaker waking up . Sep 14, · William Blake's two poems called "The Chimney Sweeper" create art by keeping us uncomfortable.
As you've probably guessed by now, many of the poems in Songs of Innocence, like "The Chimney Sweeper," are about the ways in which childhood innocence is destroyed, taken away, or ruined by mean old adults.
For Blake, innocence is, in many ways, a total joke. Sep 14, · William Blake's two poems called "The Chimney Sweeper" create art by keeping us uncomfortable.
The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young By William Blake About this Poet In his Life of William Blake () Alexander Gilchrist warned his readers that Blake "neither wrote nor drew for the many, hardly for work'y-day men at all, rather for children and angels; himself 'a divine.
The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake Prev Article Next Article In (the year of the beginning of the French Revolution), Blake brought out his Songs of Innocence, which included The Chimney Sweeper.