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Explain what is happening in each of the following poems and compare
and contrast the different ways in which they deal with the theme of

The first poem ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti is a late romantic,
early Victorian sonnet, which is about someone who has passed away.
‘The chimney sweeper’ by William Blake, is written in 1740’s and is
about a young child chimney sweep and his plight.

‘Remember’ is written in the narrative voice so that it seems as if
the person who passed away is speaking. The poem talks about how the
deceased person has gone to a calmer, more peaceful place and how you
will no longer be able to touch or feel them again. ‘Gone far away…
hand.’ The first part of the poem is dark and mournful but because it
is a sonnet it allows for a more optimistic and comforting turn after
line eight. It tells people that there is a time for grief and a time
to move on but that they should not feel any guilt. Christina Rossetti
has written the poem so that it flows and sounds rather like a song.
The mood of the poem is sombre and she repeats the word ‘remember’
throughout the sonnet. This reminds the reader what the focus of the
poem is and gives it structure throughout it. It also emphasises the
meaning of the poem. The poem deals with the theme of sorrow in the
form of death. However it is not a dark poem and makes death not seem
that bad. She uses the sonnet form so that in line 9 there is a shift.
This creates a break in the poem. Up to line 9 the poem is about grief
and sadness but then it shifts and becomes more philosophical.

Christina Rossetti uses euphemistic language such as ‘darkness’ and
‘corruption’ to represent death. This creates depth and makes you
think about the poem. She also uses metaphors in her euphemistic
language such as ‘silent-land’, which represents Heaven. This poem
would be used at funerals because it is written in a way that suggests
the deceased person is talking.

‘The chimney sweeper’ is about a young boy who is sold as a chimney
sweep. The poem tells of his sad story. William Blake uses narrative
voice of a child so that it engages the reader. The rhyming in the
poem makes it sound like a child is talking. Blake is trying to show
the children as victims by showing how vulnerable and pathetic their
cries are. ‘Cry weep, weep, weep’ He uses couplets and verses to

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emphasise this. The writer uses alliteration and similes to emphasise
the struggle of these young children. ‘I sweep & in soot I sleep’,
‘curl’d like a lambs back.’

This poem mocks the advice of the church because the church should
care about the children but it doesn’t. The church tells the children
that when they’re dead they are free and if they are good then there
is nothing to fear when they die. This shows you how vulnerable the
children are because the church is manipulating their thoughts. This
poem uses pastoral, ‘then down the green… sun.’

It uses nature to represent peace and tranquillity. Blake makes you
feel upset because the children comfort each other even though they
are very young. The rhyming scheme in this poem reinforces the
meaning, which is that the church is giving these poor children a
false hope.

‘And by came an Angel… in the sun’ Blake uses this verse as a contrast
to the black and dull colours of their normal lives. The dreams of the
chimney sweeps shows how they should live, free and happy, they make
you feel even more upset because their lives are terrible compared to

Both poems deal with sorrow but in different ways. ‘Remember’ deals
with sorrow that is caused by death. This poem tries to present a
positive outlook on death as something that should not make you too
sad and that you should not dwell upon. ‘The chimney sweeper’ deals
with sorrow and suffering caused by the ill treatment of children
during the industrial revolution. It protests against their suffering
and tries to engage the reader in order to create sorrow and sympathy
amongst them for the chimney sweeps.

Both poems use rhyme to emphasise their meanings but also take
different approaches on the theme of sorrow. ‘Remember’ takes a more
happier, brighter approach to sorrow whereas ‘the chimney sweeper’
takes a darker approach.

I prefer poem 1 ‘Remember’ because I like the way that it flows
nicely. I prefer it to ‘the chimney sweeper’ because it has a happier
take on sorrow. ‘Remember’ has a good moral that everyone can take on
board whereas ‘the chimney sweeper’ does not. It says just because
someone has passed away it doesn’t mean that you should feel
continually depressed and not move on. I also enjoy the choice of
words and rhyme in this poem.
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