The Chimney Sweeper
From Songs of Experience
- A little black thing among the snow,
Crying “'weep! 'weep,” in notes of woe!
“Where are thy father & mother? Say?”
“They are both gone up to the church to pray.
- “Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
- “And because I am happy & dance & sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King,
Who made up a heaven of our misery.”
The speaker was so young when eh was sold that he could not even say “sweep” properly.
Prior to advances in modern medicine, it was believed that hair, especially luxurious, curly hair, sapped the strength from the body; therefore, the head was shaved as a means of treating a number of diseases. This could also imply that the child had lice.
the bags containing their cleaning tools
This Songs of Innocence version ends in a nursery-rhyme type of moral about submitting patiently to suffering, essentially ignoring the apparent horrors of the child chimney-sweepers.
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