The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)
by William Blake
The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence) Death Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! (1-3)
We're gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is a kind of metaphorical murder. This father literally took away his kid's personhood. The guy who buys the child is guilty of the same crime, a crime that doesn't see children as children but as objects or slaves to be exploited for profit.
There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: [...] (5-6)
These lines remind us of the expression "lambs to the slaughter." The shaving of Tom's head is the first step in a process or career that will slowly kill him. It may not literally kill him, but it will definitely destroy a part of his life that he can never have back.
["]You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair." (8)
The fact that Tom has white hair suggests that he is an old man, or that he resembles an old man. And since the elderly are generally a whole lot closer to death than the young, the line suggests that Tom's aging much more quickly than he should. He's still a child, after all.