The Chimney Sweeper: 'A little black thing among the snow'

William Blake, read by Mimi Khalvati


The Chimney Sweeper: 'A little black thing among the snow'

William Blake, read by Mimi Khalvati


Poem introduction

Written five years later when the plight of chimney sweeps had still not improved, in this second poem, the poet’s and the speaker’s voice are one, stripped of ironic counterpoint. This is a more naked indictment of God, church and state, in which the child’s voice has lost its innocence, is grounded in experience and the awareness of being a victim. The syntax and structure are accordingly more sophisticated: sentences begin with subsidiary clauses and use a rhetorical mode of argument and persuasion. However, irony does come in, in the use of anaphora, the repeated word ‘Because’ opening two verses, positing a world of reason and rationality, although of course there is no ‘because’, no cause, no possible reason in the world to justify these children’s living deaths.

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