There are two ‘Chimney Sweeper’ poems by William Blake. The first appeared in Songs of Innocence in 1789, while a second poem, also called ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ was included in Songs of Experience in 1794. Like many of Blake’s most celebrated poems, ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ – in both versions – uses fairly straightforward language, although some words of analysis may help to shed light on the meaning of these two poems.
The Chimney Sweeper (from Songs of Innocence)
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘weep! weep! weep! weep!’
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.
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.’ Read the rest of this entry
What is the meaning of this curious Blake poem?
Is it always best to tell someone you have feelings for them? Is it sometimes better to withhold your true feelings, and not confess your love? Obviously this depends, but this underappreciated short poem by William Blake explains why sometimes it’s better to have loved and kept quiet than to have blabbed about the depth of your affections.
Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be
For the gentle wind does move
I told my love I told my love
I told her all my heart
Trembling cold in ghastly fears
Ah she doth depart Read the rest of this entry
The meaning of Blake’s powerful allegorical poem
Many of William Blake’s greatest poems are written in clear and simple language, using the quatrain form which faintly summons the ballad metre used in popular oral poetry. But some of his poetry, being allegorical and symbolic in nature, requires some careful close reading and textual analysis. ‘The Garden of Love’ is one such example. What is this poem about?
The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore. Read the rest of this entry