What is the summary of "The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young," by William Blake?

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beateach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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In “The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young,” William Blake speaks about the life of juvenile chimney sweeps who were employed in this dangerous occupation when they were much too young. The children were forced to climb chimneys and sleep in filthy conditions; “So your chimneys I sweep and in soot I sleep.”

The speaker’s mother dies during his birth and his father apprentices him as a chimney sweep before he is able to speak the words correctly. “And my father sold me while yet my tongue, Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!'"

Yet the speaker provides comfort to a new young sweep, Tom Dacre, who is troubled when the older sweeps shave his blonde curls because they hold soot. Tom has a dream of Angels caring for the young sweeps and leading them to greener pastures. He awakens from his dream believing that if he is a good boy and does his work he will be provided for through Divine intervention. ”And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy, He'd have God for his father & never want joy.”

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