What is a detailed summary of the poem "The Chimney Sweeper"?

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Which one?  Blake wrote a series of poems which fell under the categories of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.  Most have counterparts--The Lamb is in the Innocence category, The Tiger is in the Experience category.  For Blake's The Chimney Sweeper, there are two--one for each category.  In the Songs of Innocence Chimney Sweeper, the images are of hope and helping fellow chimney sweeps deal with shaved heads and other causes of sorrow.  There are images of angels coming to set them all free from their black coffins (probably the smallness and darkness of the chimneys in which the boys crawled to clean and make a paltry living).  There is a feeling of hope and happiness imbedded in the sorrowful life these little ones lead and the fear they feel being forced into small, dark places where they can be stuck and die.  In the Songs of Experience Chimney Sweeper, the mood is quite a bit different.  The Chimney Sweeper answers the question, "Where is your mother and father?" with this reply, "They have gone up to the church to pray.  Because they see me happy, they think they have done me no harm."  The impression is that the sorrow and fear of his work have effected him more gravely than anyone knows, and he is reflecting on that.  He is definitely more "experienced" and worldly than he should be at such a tender age.  He is also more jaded and skilled in hiding emotions and true feelings than he should be for someone so young and small.

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In "The Chimney Sweeper," the speaker relates that after his mother's death, he was sold by his father to be a chimney sweeper when he was so small he could scarely say the word sweep.  In the 18th century in England small boys, sometimes no more than four or five worked, climbing the narrow chimeny flues to clean them, collecting the soot into bags.  Having to breathe this soot and often becoming deformed from the narrow flues, the boys were subjected to terrible conditions and often were treated miserably by their masters.

Yet, in spite of these conditions, the speaker's attitude seems positive as he tells little Tom Dacre not to worry about his shorn hair because now the "soot cannot spoil [it]."  Tom becomes "quiet," perhaps repressing his worry.  He dreams of the other sweepers in black coffins.  Then, an "Angel who had a bright key" releases them into the clean beauty of Nature where he has "God for his father," and never suffer from unhappiness.

In the last line speaker says, "So if all do their duty they need not fear harm."  However, here the attitudes of the speaker and the poet greatly differ. This discrepancy is  termed dramatic irony; Blake comments on the deadly job of the boys.  The dream can be interpreted allegorically with the "coffins" being the flues since they were the cause of disease, deformity, and even death, which is the only escape from this horrible employment.  One only escapes "harm" by dying--when the Angel with the bright key releases him.

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