Give a detailed summary of "The Chimney Sweeper."

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The version of "The Chimney Sweeper" in Songs of Innocence is about a young boy named Tom Dacre.  His mother has died, so his father sells him as an apprentice to a man who orders that Tom become a chimney sweep (as many young children were at the time).  Tom's hair must be shaved, and this makes him upset.  The speaker tells him that this is really a comfort so that his hair does not get covered in soot.  That night, Tom dreams of many children who have died in the profession, but now that they are dead, they have been relieved of their burdens and live happily in Heaven.  Tom wakes up happy that he will be in God's hands.

In "The Chimney Sweeper" in Songs of Experience, the speakers looks down on everyone from Heaven and says that they have created the misery under which children must suffer.  He says that the only reason why he is dead is because the conditions set up by adults caused his, and others', death.