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Compare Two Poems: 'The Echoing Green' and 'The Chimney Sweeper'

In this worksheet, students read two poems by William Blake and answer questions on them.

'Compare Two Poems: 'The Echoing Green' and 'The Chimney Sweeper'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:   Make Comparisons of Texts

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

William Blake was a poet who was born in the eighteenth century. In this worksheet you can read two of his poems and answer questions on them.

 

Remember that you can look back at the poems as often as you like by clicking on the Help button.

 

 

********************

The Echoing Green

 Boys playing cricket

 

The sun does arise,

And make happy the skies; 

The merry bells ring

To welcome the spring.

The skylark and thrush,

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around

To the bell's cheerful sound,

While our sports shall be seen

On the Echoing Green.

 

Old John with white hair,

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk.

They laugh at our play,

And soon they all say:

"Such, such were the joys

When we all, girls and boys,

In our youth time were seen

On the Echoing Green."

 

Till the little ones weary

No more can be merry;

The sun does descend,

And our sports have an end.

Round the laps of their mother

Many sisters and brothers,

Like birds in their nest,

Are ready for rest;

And sport no more seen

On the darkening green.

 

 

 

 

The Chimney Sweeper

 

When my mother died I was very young,

And my father sold me while yet my tongue

Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"

So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

 

 

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head

 

That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I said,

"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,

You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

 

And so he was quiet, & that very night,

As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,

Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

 

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,

And he opened the coffins & set them all free;

Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,

And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

 

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,

They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.

And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,

He'd have God for his father & never want joy.

 

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark

And got with our bags & our brushes to work.

Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;

So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

 

********************

The first three questions are about the poem The Echoing Green.

 

The poem describes a scene on a village green in England, with church bells ringing, birds singing and children playing.

 

Write down the adjectives used in lines 2, 3 and 8 of the first stanza (verse) to show that the scene is a pleasant one. Make sure your answers are in lower case.

 adjective
line 2
line 3
line 8

The first stanza of the poem is set in the morning, but by the third stanza it is evening. Blake writes 'The sun does descend', but which other word tells us that evening is coming on?

 

Write it in the answer box.

In the second stanza the poet describes 'Old John with white hair' who is watching the children play. Although he is now old, we know that John is content to watch and remember the time when he was young and used to play on the green.

 

Thinking about the meaning of this stanza, why do you think that William Blake used the word 'echoing' in the title of this poem?

The green is very noisy.

The children are shouting and their voices are echoing.

The scene described will repeat itself year after year until the children themselves become old.

The next three questions are about The Chimney Sweeper. Remember that you can read the poem again by clicking on the Help button.

 

In William Blake's day children did not go to school but were often forced to work from a very young age. Working as a chimney sweep was a particularly dirty and dangerous job for a child. Look at the list of working and living conditions below. Which ones are mentioned in the poem?

 

Tick three boxes.

They slept in soot.

They had very little to eat.

Their heads were shaved.

They went to work very early in the mornings.

They were beaten by their owners.

They went up chimneys while the fires were still lit.

The narrator of the poem is slightly older than the boy Tom and tries to comfort him after his head is shaved. What does he tell him?

If his head is shaved he won't get nits.

If his head is shaved he won't get soot in his hair.

If his head is shaved he will be a better chimney sweep.

Tom has a dream in which the young sweeps are locked in black coffins but are set free by an angel. How does the narrator interpret the dream?

He thinks it means they will all die soon.

He thinks it means they will soon be set free from their work.

He thinks it means that if they work hard at their job all will be well.

Although they are very different in tone, the two poems have the same rhyme scheme. What is it?

They feature internal rhymes.

They are written in rhyming couplets.

The second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme.

Read the following statements and tick the poem that each one refers to. In some cases you may need to tick both boxes.

 The Echoing GreenThe Chimney Sweeper
The poem describes a pleasant scene.
The poem describes an aspect of life at the time William Blake was alive.
The poem was probably written to make a political point.
The poem has a first person narrator.
The poem describes a way of life that we no longer have.

Read through the first stanza of the poem.

 

When my mother died I was very young,

And my father sold me while yet my tongue

Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"

So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

 

Which line tells you that the speaker works as a chimney sweep?

Line 1

Line 2

Line 3

Line 4

Read through the 4th stanza.

 

And so he was quiet, & that very night,

As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,

Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

 

Look at the options below. 

Which sentence best describes the chimney sweeps in Tom's dream?

They were all stuck in large chimneys.

They were being saved.

They were trapped.

They were all being sold by their parents.

  • Question 1

The first three questions are about the poem The Echoing Green.

 

The poem describes a scene on a village green in England, with church bells ringing, birds singing and children playing.

 

Write down the adjectives used in lines 2, 3 and 8 of the first stanza (verse) to show that the scene is a pleasant one. Make sure your answers are in lower case.

CORRECT ANSWER
 adjective
line 2
line 3
line 8
EDDIE SAYS
The scene portrayed is a happy and peaceful one, and William Blake emphasises this with his use of adjectives.
  • Question 2

The first stanza of the poem is set in the morning, but by the third stanza it is evening. Blake writes 'The sun does descend', but which other word tells us that evening is coming on?

 

Write it in the answer box.

CORRECT ANSWER
darkening
EDDIE SAYS
Fantastic effort! The poem is framed by the sun rising at the start and then setting at the end, with the green becoming dark and the children returning to their mothers.
  • Question 3

In the second stanza the poet describes 'Old John with white hair' who is watching the children play. Although he is now old, we know that John is content to watch and remember the time when he was young and used to play on the green.

 

Thinking about the meaning of this stanza, why do you think that William Blake used the word 'echoing' in the title of this poem?

CORRECT ANSWER
The scene described will repeat itself year after year until the children themselves become old.
EDDIE SAYS
An echo is something that repeats itself, and William Blake was probably referring to the timelessness of the scene, with the same events taking place year after year.
  • Question 4

The next three questions are about The Chimney Sweeper. Remember that you can read the poem again by clicking on the Help button.

 

In William Blake's day children did not go to school but were often forced to work from a very young age. Working as a chimney sweep was a particularly dirty and dangerous job for a child. Look at the list of working and living conditions below. Which ones are mentioned in the poem?

 

Tick three boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
They slept in soot.
Their heads were shaved.
They went to work very early in the mornings.
EDDIE SAYS
Although it is not mentioned in the poem, many young chimney sweeps were burnt by fires that had not gone out before they were forced to go up the chimneys. The poem doesn't mention beatings or lack of food, but it is quite likely that these were also the case.
  • Question 5

The narrator of the poem is slightly older than the boy Tom and tries to comfort him after his head is shaved. What does he tell him?

CORRECT ANSWER
If his head is shaved he won't get soot in his hair.
EDDIE SAYS
It sounds like the narrator is being sarcastic, but he is probably genuine in his efforts to comfort a younger boy.
  • Question 6

Tom has a dream in which the young sweeps are locked in black coffins but are set free by an angel. How does the narrator interpret the dream?

CORRECT ANSWER
He thinks it means that if they work hard at their job all will be well.
EDDIE SAYS
The clue is in the last line of the poem: 'So if all do their duty they need not fear harm'. Although the narrator believes this, it was not the view of William Blake himself, who was against the exploitation of children. In the poem he is making it clear that the children are victims even if they don't realise it themselves. Nearly there super star!
  • Question 7

Although they are very different in tone, the two poems have the same rhyme scheme. What is it?

CORRECT ANSWER
They are written in rhyming couplets.
EDDIE SAYS
Both poems are written in rhyming couplets, which are pairs of lines that rhyme with each other.
  • Question 8

Read the following statements and tick the poem that each one refers to. In some cases you may need to tick both boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
 The Echoing GreenThe Chimney Sweeper
The poem describes a pleasant scene.
The poem describes an aspect of life at the time William Blake was alive.
The poem was probably written to make a political point.
The poem has a first person narrator.
The poem describes a way of life that we no longer have.
EDDIE SAYS
Super work! Although 'The Echoing Green' seems old-fashioned, children do still play on village greens.
  • Question 9

Read through the first stanza of the poem.

 

When my mother died I was very young,

And my father sold me while yet my tongue

Could scarcely cry " 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"

So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

 

Which line tells you that the speaker works as a chimney sweep?

CORRECT ANSWER
Line 4
EDDIE SAYS
Well done! Line 4 says 'So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.' The words 'So your chimneys I sweep' tell us that he is a chimney sweep.
  • Question 10

Read through the 4th stanza.

 

And so he was quiet, & that very night,

As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!

That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, & Jack,

Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

 

Look at the options below. 

Which sentence best describes the chimney sweeps in Tom's dream?

CORRECT ANSWER
They were trapped.
EDDIE SAYS
High five! Look at the last line of the stanza. 'Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;' This line gives the reader the idea that the boys were trapped. They are 'locked up' so they can't escape.
---- OR ----

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