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Symbol Analysis

The sweeper tells the speaker two times that his parents have gone to church. But in this poem, that's definitely not a good thing. The child's parents, for example, are more concerned with their religious obligations than they are with the fact that they're child is out alone in the snow. Moreover, it seems like God and his "priest" are no good either; they "make up a heaven" of the child's misery.

  • Line 4: The sweeper tells the speaker that his parents have gone up to the church to pray. Which also means they've left him here to freeze his little butt off in the winter snow. Parenting 101? Don't do that.
  • Line 11: The sweeper notes again that his parents have gone to church to "praise God and his priest and king." "God and his priest" symbolizes the church more generally; the "king" symbolizes the state or government.
  • Line 12: The sweeper concludes by saying "God and his priest and king" make "heaven" out of the child's misery. Heaven here need not be paradise up in the sky; it can just symbolize anything that the sweeper's parents, the church, and the government do that exploits the child.

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