William Blake’s The Chimney Sweeper
William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” was mainly about the possibilities of both hope and faith. Although the poem’s connotation is that of a very dark and depressed nature, the religious imagery Blake uses indicates that the sweeps will have a brighter future in eternity.
In lines 4 – 8 when Blake writes, “There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head, That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved: so I said ‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’ These lines symbolize faith in the biblical sense. Young Tom’s is like that of the sacrificial lamb of God and when the narrator tells Tom to stop crying because he knows that the soot can not longer spoil his white hair he, is saying to Tom, once he makes this sacrifice nothing else can hurt him. Blake is saying that if the children make the sacrifice of living out their lives here on Earth, no matter how dark and dismal their lives may seem at the time, they will be rewarded in heaven as long as they know the glory of God and trust in him.
It is in lines 10 – 24 that the poem becomes one of hope. For when Blake writes “As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black. And by came an Angel who had a bright key, And he opened the coffins and set them all free;” Blake’s words ring true of hope for the sweeps in the sense that they will all be set free from the “Black coffins” that confine them, which are most likely the chimneys themselves in which they have to crawl into everyday by an angel, most likely meaning the angel of death. “Then down a green plain a leaping and laughing, they run, And wash in the river and shine in the sun. Then naked and white all their bags left behind, They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;” When Blake wrote these lines he was of course referring to the act of Baptism. Which is defined in the Bible as being a water ritual, used as a spiritual symbol. Through this process the sweeps would be washed clean of all of their sins and also be cleansed of all of the bad things in their lives including their jobs. “And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.” This line of the poem indicates that if Tom was a good child and did as he was told on Earth that he would not be forsaken by God as his...