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The Chimney Sweeper (Innocence) Summary & Analysis
by William Blake

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"The Chimney Sweeper" is a poem by William Blake, published in his 1789 collection Songs of Innocence. The poem is told from the perspective of a young chimney sweep, a boy who has been sold into labor by his father. The sweep meets a new recruit to the chimney sweeping gang named Tom Dacre, who arrives terrified. After the speaker tries to reassure Tom, Tom dreams of an angel who sets the chimney sweeps free, allowing them to play in green fields and then ascend to heaven. This dream seems to suggest that if the boys are obedient workers, they'll get into heaven. Implicitly, though, the poem takes issue with this idea, suggesting that it's a form of indoctrination for the Church. The companion poem of the same title, published in Songs of Experience, makes this position—that promises of heavenly salvation are simply a means to exploit child labor—crystal clear.

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