poet William Blake

William Blake

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The Chimney-Sweeper: When My Mother Died I Was Very Young

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'Weep! weep! weep! weep!'
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved; so I said,
'Hush, Tom! never mind it, for, when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.'

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight! --
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.

And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and let them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke, and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Poem Edited: Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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Comments about The Chimney-Sweeper: When My Mother Died I Was Very Young by William Blake

  • Suryendu Chaudhury (9/23/2020 10:06:00 AM)

    The fantasy packed up in a death like sleep proceeding from the mind of a child labouring hard. The vent that is provided is a momentary promise that has the undertone of intepellation.

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  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (8/4/2019 10:40:00 PM)

    Quite a mystical poem, showing what happens to the unfortunate chimney sweeps after
    they die. They are fortunately rescued by an angel, who unlocks their coffins, opening to them the gates of Paradise, where God will look after them. A stunning poem.

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  • Ruby Root (8/23/2006 8:54:00 PM)

    This is not the first time I have read this poem. I think it is amazing. How could you not classify this as poetry? Chimney-sweepers were so common in that era. This was life. Poor children doing jobs for little or no money living with only their dreams. Excellent poem. I find William Blake a great writer.

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  • Kevin Harrison (8/14/2006 6:10:00 AM)

    Very boring, tasteless, grim, uninteresting, pathetic, carelessly written, shouldnt be classified as poetry!

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    3 person liked.
    15 person did not like.

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