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Chimney Sweeper - Social Issues

            William Blake does an exquisite job of portraying his outrage in the issues concerning child labor through his various poems. Specifically, "The Chimney Sweeper", depicts the mindset of the children performing this labor. .
             In the song of innocence, the children are seen as property. In the event of their parents death they will become valuable as chimney sweepers. The child in Blake's poem has lost his mother, leaving him to his father who sells him into the dangerous and demanding world. The issue here is solicitude. In these merciless times, if a child was so unlucky as to lose his mother, the father did not exhibit concern for their children. They merely saw them as property. Without a mother, children became suddenly worth something. An explosion of the distribution of possessions and trading replaces the maternal bond with the child and mother. More simply put, the child no longer knows of his mother's love, but instead of the essential system of bargaining. When Tom Dacre is crying because his head was shaved, the child says "Hush Tom never mind it, for when your head's bare/ You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair" (122). He is Tom's comforter in a way. Children in this time had to experience this and rationalize loathsome acts. I find it atrocious that children were defenseless to this lifestyle. Unlike the workers in today's economy, these children did not have an option. When Tom dreamt "That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned and Jack/ Were all of them lock"d up in coffins of black" (122), it was not just a dream. The illogic in Tom's resignation to his shaved head recurs in his dream with psychic energy. .
             Contrary to the song of innocence, in the song of experience, the child is fully aware of the events taking place. He perceives that he can do nothing to transform his uneventful destiny as a chimney sweeper. Society has committed an even bigger desolation by forcing these children lose their childhood.

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