The two poems I have chosen to discuss are: – The Chimney Sweep: My Mother Died When I Was Very Young (William Blake) and Winter: My Secret (Christina Georgina Rossetti). In this essay I will explain what I think the two poems mean and I will be describing the poems features.
The first poem The Chimney Sweep was written in 1789 by William Blake. The poem has six stanza’s and is written about a young boy whose mother has died and in stanza one before he gets the chance to grieve his father sells him and he is sent to work as a chimney sweep.
In stanza two whilst working the child meets a boy, Tom Dacre from the expressions used in the poem Tom seems to be a very young boy due to the fact the speaker uses the words “little Tom” and he cries when he has to have his head shaved. The speaker tries to compensate Tom for the loss of his hair by telling him the soot will no longer spoil his white hair; this indicates that Tom is younger than the speaker. The poem goes on to say that Tom has a dream about other chimney sweeps and the first child isn’t mentioned in the poem again although the poem is written as though the first child is the speaker.
In stanza three Tom dreams that thousands of chimney sweeps are in coffins some of which he refers to by name which leads me to believe they are friends of his that have already passed away. This stanza is very dark due to the choice of words that have been used for example “lock’d up”, “coffins” and “black”.
In the next stanza the emotion is much more bright and cheerful when Tom sees an angel with a “bright key” that sets all the children in the coffins free he sees the children running and laughing and shining in the sun. In my opinion the writer is trying to tell us that the children have been set free from the labour by death.
In stanza five the children leave their bags behind and rise into the sky and the angel tells Tom that if he is a good boy God will be his father which brings religion into the poem.
The last stanza the speaker tells us how Toms awakes and they both go to work in the dark and cold but Tom feels warm and happy inside. The last line of the poem says “So if all do their duty they need not fear harm”. In my opinion this means that they will have worked hard but they will be rewarded by God and that death would actually be a blessing.
This poem is very realistic and has a use of good simple words which helps the writer get to the point and rhyme. The poem also has a very good metre and uses enjambment in the first three stanzas. When looking at the poem on paper it looks very regular and neat and all the stanzas have the same amount of lines in them. The imagery used in this poem is very effective and the impact of the poem made me feel sorry for both the children.
The second poem Winter: My Secret was written in 1862 by Christina Georgina Rossetti, the poem has four stanzas and is written about a secret that someone has to tell but is very cautious and unsure about how the other person will react. The speaker also teases this person for a short while and leads them to believe that the secret will be told eventually. No names are mentioned in the poem so there is no indication as to whether the person with the secret or the person wanting to know the secret is either man or woman.
In the first stanza of the poem the speaker (also the person with the secret) speaks as though he or she is repeating somebody’s question “I tell my secret?”
The question is then answered (again by the speaker) with “No indeed not I” it then goes on to say that the weather is too cold for the person to tell their secret and he/she gets very cagey about the other person asking “And your too curious: Fie!”. After getting evasive about the person being too “curious” the secret holder then begins to tease the other person by acting as though they might tell but not doing.
In the second stanza the person with the secret plays a game with the person who wants to know by telling them there might not even be a secret and then goes on to talk about the weather again saying it’s a “nipping day” and a “biting day” this makes me think that the secret is painful with the person relating to pain and also the speaker gives this as his/her reason to not tell the secret. They then talk about being under wraps with a shawl this refers to the person hiding and covering something up. I also think in this stanza the speaker is scared of the other person not approving of the secret.
In the third stanza the speaker talks about the change in the weather which I think mirrors her/his moods or personality.
The forth stanza tells us that the speaker might tell the secret on another day in summer when the fruit is “ripening to excess” this indicates that the person will also be ripening to tell the secret that he/she can hold no longer and also the speaker says that the weather cannot be too hot or cold reflecting again to the persons personality. The last two lines of the poem are “perhaps my secret I may say, or you may guess”. So you never actually find out what the secret is but I feel that the speaker thinks the person will guess because it will be something that they cant hide much longer.
This poem is very abstract because you can’t actually say the secret is real. The words are complex and don’t always rhyme. When looking at the poem on paper it doesn’t look regular. The imagery used in the poem is very good because it keeps the reader intrigued.