A student’s analysis of ‘A Dream’ and ‘London’

A Dream- William Blake

Taken from ‘Songs of Innocence’, the poem by William Blake ‘A Dream’ you see a man who left home, then finds his way home. However is also possible that he had found his way to some form of heavenly home, which is a recurring theme in Blake’s poems such as ‘The Chimney Sweep’. The tone of this poem seems to be very dark and gives the very strong image of someone being lost, as a reader you feel fairly sympathetic for towards character especially as the start of the fourth stanza; ‘I dropped a tear’ and when the rhetoric question ‘do they hear their father sigh?’. Both of these quotes also suggest that the traveller isn’t away from home out of choice and thus creates further sympathy. The tone of the poem put further emphasis on the point that the traveller may have found some form of heavenly sanction rather than finding his way back to his actual home.

London- William Blake

This poem was taken from William Blake’s writings in ‘Songs of Experience’ and basically speaks about the division between rich and poor, he especially puts emphasis on the misery of the poor people. Blake focuses mostly on pain and misery throughout this poem through lines such as ‘in every infants cry of fear’ which presents a certain amount of imagery for the reader, and may make them quite uncomfortable. This feeling is kept up through the whole poem and shows that Blake wants to show the city of London at its worst and shows his dislike for the way people were having to live during that time.

 

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Blake’s ‘Chimney Sweeper’ — the horror of child slave labour

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You can compare different versions of the poem here.

 

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 & in soot I sleep.

Theres little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curl’d like a lambs back, was shav’d, 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, & that very night,
As Tom was a sleeping he had such a sight,
That thousands of sweepers Dick, Joe, Ned & Jack,
Were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black,

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open’d the coffins & set them all free.
Then down a green plain leaping laughing they run
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & 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 & never want joy.

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

Questions to answer on the poem

What effects are created when the poem is read aloud or sung?

What interests you most about the poem? Why?

What questions might you ask about the poem?

What is the poem about?

What effects does the language create?

What is the effect of the poem’s structure and form?

What are the similarities and differences between other texts?

How do other people interpret this poem? Find sources/links…

What might make a good creative response to the poem?

How might you teach this poem?

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