The Poems of William Blake

The chimney sweeper

does the speaker really think chimney-sweeping is a duty that children should do.

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No, the speaker does not think this job is proper for children. Much of the poem refers to the speakers little friend Tom Dacre. The speaker tells us that these children have no choice but to do this job. Many were sold into servitude by their parents. In the last line, the speaker says, "if all do their duty they need not fear harm". The speaker knows that any warm feeling that Tom has is just a dream: a dream of a child longing for a better life.