The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)
How we cite our quotes:
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)
Seriously? His own dad sold this kid into chimney sweeping slavery? Treating your own kid like a commodity has got to be high on the list of parenting no-nos. How can you hang on to kid-dom when your own dad doesn't see you for what you are—a child?
There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: […] (5-6)
Tom Dacre is compared to a lamb, which is pretty much the most adorable, innocent animal on the planet (save sloths, of course). The fact that he is shaved, and no longer resembles a lamb, suggests that his childhood, his lambishness, is gone, all thanks to the brutal chimney-sweeping industry.
["]You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair." (8)
While the whiteness of Tom's hair seems to suggest innocence, we can't help thinking of old age as well. The fact that Tom already has white hair suggests that he is already old, that he has already lost his childhood, while it also suggest that he's innocent and unspoiled at the same time. Nifty contrast, huh?