William Blake has written two poems with the exact same title, The Chimney Sweeper, but one corresponds to Songs of Innocence while the other, the shorter poem, is from Songs of Experience. The titles are important to determine the theme of the poem. Both poems have various things in common, that I will try to analyze. From the setting of both poems we can guess it took place in London during the late 18th century. William Blake has total knowledge of this era in history because he lived in it. We find that in this period of history it was common to see parents selling their kids as chimney sweepers. In both poems, the main character is a young chimney sweeper.
Both poems are written from the perspective of a kid and in both poems we feel sorry for them. "When my mother died I was very young," and "Because I am happy, & dance & sing, They think they have done me no injury;" are used by Blake to generate a feeling of sadness in the reader. Certainly he has achieved this with me because I feel sorry they don't have a support from their parents and they are both enslaved into such a horrible job. We know that chimney sweeping is a horrible job because the way it is described as in the poems and both are in that difficult situation thanks to their parents.
Get your grade
or your money back
using our Essay Writing Service!
"They clothed me in the clothes of death" and "They think they have done me no injury" reaffirm that the job they boys have to complete is dangerous and in both quotes the word 'they' refers to the parents.
Through this two poems Blake is able to analyze and explain his feelings about the social and economic situation that was lived in the late 18th and early 19th century. Also he is able to comment about the church and religion. In the first poem, Tom has a dream that has a very powerful religious message being guided by an angel. The angel tells him that if "He'd have God for his father, & never want joy". I believe that this poem can also be educational as it basically says that Tom will only see heaven if he is a good boy and do what he is told. Tom has to behave and complete the job because he also fears the powerful image of God.
In my opinion the first poem is very religious because it talks about the fate and hope of a desperate and suffering kids who hope that one day they can be free from chimney sweeping. We know that Tom has fate thanks to his dream. This is religious because church bases its message in the fate of believing in God.
The chimney sweeper from songs of experience is much darker than the first one and the reader is submerged in a misery setting. We know this thanks to language and adjectives Blake uses. "A little black thing among the snow" I felt this phrase was very simple but very descriptive and I believe this makes a misery setting because what seems a kid isn't even referred as a human. Like he did with the first poem, Blake still aims to create a comment and continues to talk about the poor life the young chimney sweeps are forced to carry.
I believe that The Chimney Sweeper in Songs of Experience is written in the perspective of an experienced chimney sweep. This is because he isn't as optimistic as the young kid and despair has taken over. This usually happens to older kids. "And are gone to praise God $ his Priest & King, Who make up a heaven of our misery". While Tom, the kid in The Chimney Sweeper of Songs of Innocence, uses religion as a hope, this kid blames the Church to let chimney sweeping happen. To make this statement he has to be mature and therefore more able to analyze the situation.
Like in the first poem, Blake analyzes the situation of these kids in culture. "A little black thing among the snow;" This quote describes the situation of the kids in society as they aren't even referred as valid member in society but as a black thing. In both poems there is contrast with the dirt and corrupted kids with the purity of white. This also happens in The Chimney Sweeper from Songs of Innocence. "You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair"
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Both poems use a very similar language that I believe is understandable and simple. The Chimney Sweeper from Songs of Innocence carries out something we know as rhyming couples and it goes in the sequence of AABB.
In my opinion I believe that Blake has chosen the second poem to be part of Songs of Experience as he shows that maturity can change someone's perspective and cause a change in the way they think. In my opinion, experience changes the way an individual thinks to be more cynical and pessimist. The second kid seems to be lost but he is able to blame his parents about his situation while in the first poem, the kid is more innocent and therefore more optimistic about his situation. Through this poems Blake demonstrates the progression from innocence to experience and create a critical comment about the position the church and state adopted in the late 18th century.