Of Innocence In William Blake's 'The Chimney Sweep'

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The dangers and widespread injustice of the chimney sweeping profession caught William Blake’s attention, causing him to compose two similar works titled, ‘The Chimney Sweep.’ The first belonged to the book ‘Songs of Innocence’ published in the year 1789 and the second, to ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ published just four years after; 1793. Both poems show the joys of childhood innocence as the main subject. It highlights how childhood innocence was destroyed, taken away or ruined by adults. Blake saw innocence as a joke. To him it did not exist because it was tainted by the world of experience - chimney sweeping, death, poverty, etc. Even though Blake saw innocence being taken away, he portrayed his characters in ‘The Chimney Sweep’ as one whose innocence influenced their perspective of life, which was contrary to an adult’s, yet fascinating in the Romantic period. Anyone that ever owned a chimney can attest to the fact that it did get extremely dirty. In addition to the ash that lingers in the fireplace, there is a large accumulation of soot that attaches itself to the inside of the chimney that one cannot see unless they climb up the inside with a flashlight. Approximately two hundred years ago, persons were actually climbing up chimneys and scrubbing out the soot. However, not everyone was capable of doing this job. One had to be really petite physically to fit up into the chimney, so this job was given to the ‘working children;’ some as young as four or five
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