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The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young
By William Blake
1. When my mother died I was very young,
2. And my father sold me while yet my tongue
3. Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
4. So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.
5. There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
6. That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved, so I said,
7. “Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
8. You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”
9. And so he was quiet, & that very night,
10. As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
11. That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,
12. Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;
13. And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
14. And he opened the coffins & set them all free;
15. Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
16. And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.
17. Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
18. They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
19. And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
20. He’d have God for his father & never want joy.
21. And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
22. And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
23. Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
24. So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
From Songs of Innocence (published in 1789)
Focal Points for Textual Analysis
1. The Form of the Poem
2. Style and language
3. Setting of the Poem : (Time & Place)
4. The Speaking Voice
5. Main Theme
• Which word in first quatrain means the black ashy dust found in chimneys?
• Which word in second quatrain means be quiet ?
• Which word in the third quatrain means dream
• Which word in the third Quatrain means a casket or box where a dead person is put ?
• Which word in the fourth Quatrain means jumping?
• Which two colors dominate the poem? What is the purpose of using them?
Sematic Fields: a group of words belonging to the same theme or idea
➢ Semantic field of childhood innocence
➢ Semantic field of misery and poverty
➢ Semantic field of religion
7. Parts of the poem with Titles
Divide the poem into parts and give a tile to each
8. Circular Structure
How does the poem begin and how does it end?
9. Use of Opposition and Contrast
1. Who is the speaker in the poem?
2. Who do you think little Tom Dacre is?
3. What is the common thing between all the characters of the poem?
4. What was Tom Dacre’s dream?
5. Compare the reality of the children and the dream of Tom Dacre
6. What is the relationship between dreams and reality in the poem?
7. Analyze the color imagery in the poem
8. What are the disadvantages of the industrial revolution as described in the poem?
9. Why does this poem belong to the Romantic movement in Great Britain?
10. What is the role of religion in the poem?
11. Does the poem end tragically or hopefully? Explain
12. What other title can you give to the poem?
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