October 20th 2014
The Chimney Sweeper Essay
In William Blake’s two poems, titled “The Chimney Sweeper” one was published in 1789 and the second followed five years later in 1794. Both of these poems are written about child chimney sweepers from two different perspectives. Blake uses diction, imagery, and religious references to create a juxtaposition of dark and light, innocence and impurity, and faith in God and the afterlife opposing doubt and betrayal regarding the church and heaven. The juxtapositions occur not only within each individual poem, but when read in tandem; The poems contrast each other in the way of point of view and contain opposing insights to religion and the work of the chimney sweeps.
Both of Blake’s poems use imagery and diction to evoke sympathy from the reader. Blake is effective in his use of diction to immediately draw compassion from the reader. By highlighting and using strong imagery and diction, Blake appeals to the audience in the first lines of the poem. Blake addresses how young the chimney sweeper was by telling the reader that the child was so young, he could not say “sweep” and could only manage to cry out “ ‘weep! ’weep! ‘weep!” (line 4). Blake then continues in the next line to address the audience personally by saying “So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep” (line 5). These two lines address the greenness of the subject and follows it by addressing the reader personally saying “so your chimneys I sweep” and imagery “& and in soot I sleep.” This use of diction and imagery evokes sympathy from the reader in the first stanza and sets the tone of the poem. Blake does not disregard these techniques when re-writing a different version of the poem five years later. In the first two lines of Blake’s second “The Chimney Sweeper” Blake uses both imagery and diction again to establish the innocence of the child, now filthy with soot from working. “A little black thing among the snow, Crying...