Childhood in Robert Frost's Birchess and William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper

Good Essays

Childhood in Robert Frost's Birchess and William Blake's The Chimney Sweeper

Robert Frost's view of childhood is much different than that of William Blake, as expressed in their respective poems, "Birches" and "The Chimney Sweeper". Living in the late seventeenth century, Blake saw some hard times; and as such, paints a very non-romantic picture of childhood. Frost, however, sees things differently. The result is two glaringly different poems that goes to prove how very different people are.
Blake's portrayal of childhood is far from happy. A small child's mother dies while that child is still very young; this is sad but not all together strange. However the child's father then, very soon after, sells him off to be a chimney …show more content…

Blake's poem "London" describes his era as on of pure hopelessness, a time when one's only goal is survival on to the next day. This hopelessness comes across very strong in "The Chimney Sweeper" as well, when on a cold day the boy Tom feels warm because he has the hope of heaven as motivation to live on. However, there is no since of any hope in Toms current life; there is no promise of any break in the sorrow, no Christmas vacation so to speak. This is rather depressing; thinking about any number of large tasks we do in our everyday lives, and how we know that each part we finish brings us always closer to completion. But imagine if no matter how hard you tried you could never reach that completion. Imagine what it would be like if for every part you finished two more where found needed to be done. This alone is enough to abolish any romantic notions; of childhood or just life in general.

Another factor important in one's childhood is location. Childhood in the city, for example, is far different then that in the country. The sharpest contrast here would be that of a poor family living in the slums of some large city, and a poor family living on a remote farm. One might go on and on comparing and contrasting these two styles of living, however this is already shown in the these two poems. Robert frost describes his boy as living "too far from town to learn baseball" (Frost, 26), and as one "Who's only play was what he found himself" (Frost,

Get Access