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?The Chimney Sweeper?

From Songs of Innocence

William Blake?s Songs of Innocence comprises ?songs of happy cheer? about field and flower, hill and stream, and the innocence of child and lamb, as seen through the eyes of a child (World Book vol.2 pg 314). In one excerpt, ?The Chimney Sweeper,? Blake, through religious symbolism, gives the image of an innocence child living a life of hardship and grief that gains comfort from the knowledge that God will deliver him to a better life in heaven.

The image of this child ?who cried when his head, that curled like a lamb?s back, was shaved? gives the impression of the sacrificial lamb, sacrificed into a life of hardship, poverty, and early death. The child dreams of an ?Angel who had a bright key and he opened the coffins and set them all free,? an angel who carried the word of God and of eternal life. The ?river? that they wash in is symbolic of the baptism that cleanses away their sins, and ?shine in the Sun? represents shining in God?s light. ?The Angel told Tom, if he?d be a good boy,? live by the word of God, ?he?d have God for his father and never want joy,? he will be at peace. When the child awakens from his dream, although ?the morning was cold,? he is ?happy and warm? carrying the love of God within him; comforted by the knowledge that God will protect him from harm as long as he believes.

Blake?s poetry emphasizes the ?spiritual rather than physical reality? of life (New Standard Encyclopedia B-281). Although the poems in Songs Of Innocence ?are charmingly lyrical, written with almost childlike simplicity,? they carry a powerful, spiritual message of God (B-281). ?The Chimney Sweeper? gives hope to a child living in a world of poverty where there is virtually no hope.

Blake, William. New Standard Encyclopedia. 1995 ed. Vol 3. Pg B-281.

Blake, William. The World Book Encyclopedia. 1965 ed. Vol 2. Pg 314.


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