Never Lose Hope
William Blake, born on November 28, 1757, in London is one of the greatest English poets. His work is studied today all over the world. One of Blake s poems, The Chimney Sweeper , shows many signs of immortality. In this poem, immortality can only be reached by maintaining hope in a hopeless world and embracing happiness. An example of this is line 20: He d have God for his father, and never want joy . Immortality is something people have chased for years and have never been able to capture. In Webster s dictionary, immortality is stated as, Not mortal, deathless, living or lasting forever. In The Chimney Sweeper , Blake saw immortality in a different sense than Webster states. Blake saw immortality as happiness throughout life and the importance of hope.
The Chimney Sweeper is a great title for Blake s poem. The title is a symbol representing the harsh life of a chimney sweeper and his life as a child. He states, When my mother died I was very young, and my father sold me while yet my tongue , (ln 1-2). This is saying that his mother died when he was young and his father gave him up. Blake s unhappiness resembles being mortal in a sense that his unhappiness is like being dead. Blake has two meanings when he says, So your chimney s I sweep, and in soot I sleep , (ln 4). This line denotes that he is an adult now with the responsibility of being a chimney sweeper. Blake is really saying that his childhood was terrible like the work of a chimney sweeper.
Now Blake introduces a new character into the poem, which is Tom Dacre (ln 5). In the second stanza, Blake is stating the mortality, or unhappiness of Tom. The author s tone changes for a moment in stanza two when he says Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head s bare, the soot cannot spoil your white hair , (ln 7-8). The author has two meanings in these lines. The obvious is that he can t have hair for the fact that his hair would be full of soot. The tone change comes in where the meaning is not so obvious. The tone up to line six is mournful. Lines seven and eight also have a mournful tone in the obvious state. They connote that Tom needs to keep his head up and not let his job get to him, or simply to keep hope alive. This changes the tone to sound like he has something to look forward to in life.
In line nine, there is a change to a peaceful tone that crescendos throughout the stanza to become a more evil or bleak tone. Stanza three is stating that he is going to be a chimney sweeper for the rest of his life and he is starting to realize this fact. The obvious of line twelve, Were all of them locked up in coffins of black , is saying that he is trapped as a chimney sweeper. The not so obvious states that he is locked in a black coffin of unhappiness, a world without hope.
The tone of the forth stanza is a tremendous change from the rest of the poem. It turns from an evil and mournful tone to a joyful tone. Tom is dreaming that an angel brought him a key (ln 12). I believe this is a symbol of God bringing Tom the key to happiness. It is line twelve when the poem takes a turn towards immortality or happiness. Line thirteen is connoting that the key let all the chimney sweepers free of their mortality. The obvious of lines twelve and thirteen is that an angel brought a key to unlock the coffins of black. The next two lines Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run, And wash in a river, and shine in the sun is saying that the key did give the chimney sweepers happiness. The key is God in this stanza.
In the obvious, lines seventeen and eighteen are simply stating what Blake s picture of heaven is. The connotation of line seventeen when it states all their bags left behind is that the chimney sweepers leave their troubles behind when they are not at work and they will be happy (ln 17). The tone in these two lines is still a joyful one and changes in line nineteen when the author says And the Angel told Tom, if he d be a good boy, He d have God for his father, and never want joy (ln 19-20). Blake s tone in these two lines turns serious. This is a strong change in the poem where it will grab ones attention. These two lines of the poem not only help Tom, but also will help one in real life situations. The two lines denote if Tom did his work he would have God in his life and that would give him happiness and immortality.
The last stanza in lines twenty-one and twenty-two are stating only the obvious. The author is saying early the next morning the workers woke up and got to work. Lines twenty-three and twenty-four say Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm; So if all do their duty they need not fear harm (ln 23-24). In line twenty-three Blake is saying that it was cold outside, but since Tom has let God into his life it filled a hole inside of him, which can keep him warm. This is when Tom becomes immortal in the poem. The last line of the poem is simply stating that if a person does what God wants they will not have to face mortality. Line twenty-four has a moral in the poem that relates to life. If one excepts God, than one does not have to worry about a finite existence.
One can see how the poem relates to life. There are a lot of things that one can substitute in for God that will make one happy. For instance a spouse or mate. Having a spouse can fill a whole in ones heart just like God filled in Tom s. Losing that thing that fills in ones whole can create a sense of mortality or unhappiness. From personal experience, having a girlfriend or any other sense of happiness creates immortality in ones life.
Immortality is obviously something Blake did not take lightly. His view of happiness, hope, and the infinite existence is something he took great care in hiding in between the lines of The Chimney Sweeper . Blake used many symbols throughout the poem. The author stated the obvious and left it to the reader to find the not so obvious. The Chimney Sweeper is an excellent poem. Blake s style of writing is non conventional but superb. This is a perfect example of why Blake s writings are still studied today all over the world.