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The Well Read Poem

Dec 19, 2022

In this tenth season of The Well Read Poem podcast, we are reading six poems about the blessings and curses of labor. Work is a thing we both enjoy and dislike, and some professions are easier for poets to draw inspiration from than others. These poems come from different ages of literary history, and hopefully will leave the reader with a sense of what work has meant to different minds over the course of the centuries. Today's selection is "The Chimney Sweeper" by William Blake; poem begins at timestamp 5:53.

The Chimney Sweeper: A Little Black Thing Among the Snow

by William Blake

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.
Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."