Talking about the Past (I): Narrating Past Events (The Chimney Sweeper)

Chapter: The Chimney Sweeper

Vocabulary in use

Find out the single words in bold from the poem for the following definitions.

a. a pipe or structure through which smoke or steam is carried away from a fire furnace = chimney
b. black powder in the smoke of wood, coal = soot
c. make (a house, etc.) secure by locking the doors and windows = bolt
d. naked, uncovered = bare
e. box in which dead body is buried or cremated = coffin
f. a divine or supernatural messenger from deity = angel

Reading comprehension

Read the poem again and answer the following questions.

a. Who composed the poem?

"The Chimney Sweeper" was composed by William Blake.

b. Why did the speaker cry?

The speaker cried because he was sad and unhappy about his life as a chimney sweepper.

c. What does the expression ‘That curled like a lamb’s back’ mean?

The expression "That curled like a lamb's back" means that the speaker's hair was curly and soft, like the fur of a lamb.

d. How did the angel open the black coffins?

The angel opened the black coffins by using a key.

e. At what condition would Tom get joy?

Tom would get joy when his dream of being free and happy comes true.

f. What do you think there might be in their bags?

There might be dreams in their bags.

g. What did the angel tell to Tom?

The angel told Tom to be happy and not to cry, because he would be free and happy in heaven.

h. How was the morning?

The morning was described as "bright" and "clear."

i. At the end of the poem what message was given to Tom?

At the end of the poem, Tom is told by the angel that he will be free and happy in heaven. The message is one of hope and comfort, and encourages Tom to find joy and solace in his dreams, even though his life is difficult and unfair.

Use the words in the box to complete the summary of the poem.

chimney-sweeping, shaved, dream, locked, fellow, field, tools, boy, paradise, key

The speaker of the poem is a small boy who was sold into the chimney-sweeping business when his mother died. He recounts the story of a fellow chimney sweeper, Tom Dacre, who cried when his hair was shaved to prevent vermin and soot from infesting it. The speaker comforts Tom, who falls asleep and has a dream or vision of several chimney sweepers all locked in black coffins. An angel arrives with a special key that opens the locks on the coffins and sets the children free. The newly freed children run through a green field and wash themselves in a river, coming out clean and white in the bright sun. The angel tells Tom that if he is a good boy, he will have this paradise for his own. When Tom awakens, he and the speaker gather their tools and head out to work, thinking that one day they would have a better life.

How did you feel when you read the poem?

I felt a sense of sadness and compassion for the young chimney sweepers described in the poem. The portrayal of their difficult lives and the loss of their innocence evoked feelings of sympathy and empathy in me. At the same time, the hopeful message of the poem and the idea that the children's suffering will be rewarded in heaven brought a sense of comfort and inspiration. Overall, reading the poem was a poignant and thought-provoking experience.

Have you ever seen a child like Tom Dacre in your locality? If yes, when and where? What does he/she do for his/her living?

I saw the child about a year ago in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of the Bharatpur city. The child was around 10 years old and was working as a chimney sweep. I remember seeing him early in the morning, as he was just setting out to work. He was carrying a small bag of tools and looked tired and dirty. I do not know how he came to be working as a chimney sweep or how he supports himself, but it was clear that he was working hard to make a living. Seeing the child reminded me of the difficult circumstances that some people face and the importance of compassion and understanding towards those who are less fortunate.


Read the following paragraph and observe how past tense is used. Then underline the verbs which are in the past simple and the past continuous form.

Mangali woke up at 6 a.m. in the morning yesterday. When she looked at the clock she said, “I am going to be late for my coaching class.” It wasn’t her first time to be late for the class. She thought her teacher would get angry with her for the same reason: coming late to the class. Anyway, she became fresh and had a cup of tea and hurried to school. When she reached school, she saw no one. While she was moving around the school yard, she thought to look at the notice board to see if there was any notice. When she looked at the notice board, she saw that there was a notice about a school holiday. She cursed herself when she remembered that her teacher had read out the notice in the class the day before. Feeling ashamed, she returned to her home.

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate verbs from the box.

married, was, fell, had, ran, wanted, were, found, said, didn’t, like, became, refused

Once upon a time, there was a king who lived in a palace. He had three beautiful daughters but no sons. He wanted his daughters to get married before he died. He found three princes. But his daughters refused them. They didn't like the princes, so the king became very angry. He said they had to get married when they were twenty years old. The three daughters ran away during the night and found work on a farm. They fell in love with the farmer’s sons while they were working there. They married the farmer’s sons as soon as they were twenty.

Write a story from the following outlines. Give it a suitable title.

… a storm fell upon a forest … a dead tree struck by lightning … the forest was on fire … a little parrot flew toward the river … a desperate idea came to him … dipped himself into the water … flew back to the forest … released the drops of water into the heart of the blaze … continued this task … an eagle appeared … suggested him to save his life and stop that useless task … the parrot wanted help, not advice … the eagle realised and joined the parrot … all the other birds joined too … they ceased the forest fire … all creatures praised them … moral

The Brave Parrot and the Forest Fire

A storm fell upon a forest, bringing with it strong winds and lightning. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck a dead tree, setting it ablaze. The fire quickly spread through the dry underbrush, engulfing the forest in flames.

As the inferno raged on, a little parrot flew towards the river in a desperate bid to save the forest. He had a desperate idea - to dip himself in the water and fly back to the forest, releasing the drops of water into the heart of the blaze.

The parrot began this task, flying back and forth between the river and the burning forest. As he worked, an eagle appeared, watching from a safe distance. The eagle suggested that the parrot save his own life and stop this useless task.

But the parrot wanted help, not advice. He shouted back at the eagle, telling him that he needed assistance to put out the fire. The eagle realized the gravity of the situation and joined the parrot in his mission. Soon, all the other birds in the forest joined in as well.

Together, they worked tirelessly, ceasing the forest fire. When the flames were finally extinguished, all the creatures in the forest praised the brave parrot and his feathered friends. The moral of the story is that working together, we can overcome even the greatest challenges.