Also, Tom Dacre dreamed of “thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack, were all of them lock’d up in coffins of black” (Blake, 1789/2007). “Though his [the speaker] few years seniority have given him a protective sense of responsibility, they have robbed him of little of his innocence” (Harrison, 1978). The speaker retells Tom’s dreams sincerely and reports on certain lines as if he believes them completely. ”Tom may weep more readily; Tom may dream of liberating angels more readily; but the speaker reports Tom’s visions as Tom told it to him, wholly without irony” (Harrison, 1978).
The Road Not Taken can also be interpreted as telling about a loss of innocence although; it is more about how the choices made shape lives. Those choices, however, can lead to a loss of innocence. The choices not only affect the person that made the choice but also the people close to them including their spouse, children, parents, and siblings. ”[Because,] in the poems stated intimation of the truth about human existence, as stated by Frost, is the idea of rut [the track carved out by wheels from the surface over which they travel] in its relationship to the ego” (Cervo, 1989).
Each choice a person makes leads them down a different path and the effect of that choice could be a loss of innocence. “The poem’s persona is no “spiritual drifter”; the persona is an individual has opposed to a “loner’” courageous and self-reliant, searching for his destiny” (Bassett, 1981). It is in this way that the interpretations of both The Chimney Sweeper and The Road Not Taken are similar. The Road Not Taken is about the choices each of us makes in life and the direction each of those choices takes us. Each choice a person makes shapes who that person is and who they will become.
Each path in The Road Not Taken represents a choice. Most people want to be individual and hope to make different choices from everyone else. The difficult thing about that is “ both that morning equally lay and leaves no step had trodden black” (Frost, 1915/2007) meaning, all paths or choices have been taken before. Each choice changes lives and leads to more choices. The Chimney Sweeper tells about the loss of innocence that happens to everyone. Normally, it happens slowly, over many years as a person grows to an adult.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case and sometimes, circumstances or events cause the process to be sped up or slowed down. This seems to be the case in The Chimney Sweeper. The speaker seems to have experienced events that caused an early loss of innocence whereas; with Tom the process seems to be about normal. “There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head, that curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved” (Blake, 1789/2007). Both the speaker and Tom are children that have been made to work as chimney sweepers. Each poet has different life experiences and those experiences shaped their writings.
Surely, William Blake’s experiences shaped his writing of The Chimney Sweeper as well as, Robert Frost’s shaped his writing of The Road Not Traveled. From an early age, William Blake is said to have spoken of having visions. ” At four he saw God” put his head to the window”; around the age nine, while walking three the countryside, he saw a tree filled with angels” (Academy of American Poets, 2012). When his brother, Robert, passed away from an illness in the winter of 1787, Blake was said to have seen his brother’s spirit rise up through the ceiling.
He believed that Robert’s spirit visited him throughout his life and claimed that through a dream Robert taught him the printing method he used in Songs of Innocence. Similarly, Robert Frost’s life and the events of it affected his writings, although in different ways. ” Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel” (Academy of American Poets, 2012). He spent most of his youth in New England, where The Road Not Traveled seems to be set but, during his adult life also lived in several other places.
Each of the different places he lived and visited, as well as the people he met, had some type of impact on his life. Everything around a writer has some impact or influence on their writing. The meanings and thoughts behind The Chimney Sweeper and The Road Not Traveled may never be truly known but there are several possibilities behind William Blake’s writing of The Chimney Sweeper and Robert Frost’s writing of The Road Not Taken. It is believed by many experts and people that knew him, that Blake had a mental illness. Many types of mental illnesses can change the way a person thinks and perceives the world around them.
It is also known that William Blake did research on mental disorders and it is thought that many of his theories were incorporated into his writings. ”[However,] William Blake theorized about cognitive dysfunction like no other poet of his time and his ideas challenged the prevailing Zeitgeist of opinion” (Ryan, 2011). Similarly, there are several possibilities behind Robert Frost’s writing The Road Not Taken. It has been noted by many critics that Frost was a loner that preferred living in the country (Bassett, 1981). It is also thought that he felt purposeless, uncertain, and possibly depressed.
These would be understandable feelings considering the losses during his life. His father, mother, younger sister, wife, Elinor, and four of his children preceded him in death, most at young ages. With all of these things going on in their real life, death, loneliness, and mental disorders, it is no wonder that William Blake and Robert Frost wrote about choices and the loss of innocence within The Chimney Sweeper and The Road Not Taken. It is difficult to know exactly what the writer was thinking while creating each different piece because each person has different experiences that help them create their works.
A person’s experiences never end, and each new experience changes that person, just a little. Each person that reads a written work uses their own life experiences and knowledge in order to interpret that work. This creates an innumerable amount of different interpretations, none of which are necessarily right or wrong, just different. What they were thinking that prompted them to write these works and as they were writing will never be known, so all that can be done is speculate upon their intended meaning. Bibliography Academy of American Poets. (2012). Robert Frost.