Analysis of the Poem

Originally published in 1789 in Songs of Innocence, William Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper" is a tragic poem that offers the reader a perspective into the oppressive, dangerous work of a young 18th century chimney sweep. Blake, a celebrated English poet and painter, is known for writing about young children and providing social commentary in his works--"The Chimney Sweeper" is no exception. "The Chimney Sweeper" is one of Blake's more celebrated works for its juxtaposition of themes of innocence and undertones of social commentary and melancholy imagery.

C lick here for an analysis of Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper"


Blake's use of Illustration

Besides his poetry, Blake was also well-known for his illustrations. For each poem in his collection Songs of Innocence and Experience, Blake created an illustration that not only illuminates the themes of the text, but also has its own meaning.

Click here for an analysis of how Blake uses illustration to emphasize the themes of the poem.

"The River" by Bruce Springsteen

The fifth track on his 1980 album The River, Bruce Springsteen's "The River" recounts the life of a young couple that is forced into the real world unprepared. The speaker, who must find work at 19 to care for his child, yearns for his former life of innocence; thus "The River" and "The Chimney Sweeper" have similar themes and can be effectively compared.

Click here for an analysis of how "The Chimney Sweeper" relates to Bruce Springsteen's "The River," the title track to his 1980 album The River.

Works Cited

Click here for a list of sources used in this research project.