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The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Experience)

The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Experience)


by William Blake

Black and White

Symbol Analysis

Soot is black; the child is, presumably covered in it, but he's also "black" in another way. He seems marked for death—he wears the "clothes of death" (7)—and stands in stark contrast to the white snow. The whiteness of the snow is a symbol of nature, of naturalness, and it contrasts with the very unnatural life of the chimney sweeper.

  • Line 1: The speaker refers to the chimney sweeper as a "black thing." Black refers to the soot that covers his body, but it also symbolizes death. The snow is, by contrast, white. We hope.
  • Line 6: The chimney sweeper mentions snow again.
  • Line 7: "Clothes of death" makes us think of black clothes, or the speaker's soot-covered body.

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