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The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)

The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence)


by William Blake

The Chimney Sweeper (Songs of Innocence) Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What is the deal with the poem's final line? Does the speaker really think chimney-sweeping is a duty that children should do? Should Tom really be feeling happy and warm?
  2. Why does the speaker devote so much time to Tom's dream? What does it tell us about these chimney sweepers?
  3. Does it make a difference that the speaker's most obvious criticism of chimney-sweeping happens in a dream? And what is that critique, exactly?
  4. Why do you think Blake included this poem in a volume called Songs of Innocence?
  5. What do you imagine the later poem with the same title would be like? Can a poem get any darker than this? How might it be different, similar?
  6. What's the effect of the sing-songy rhythm and almost always perfect rhymes? Do they jive with the meaning of the poem?

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