William Blake's "Chimney Sweeper" Poems Ode to the Industrial Age

As a high school and Undergraduate English Literature teacher, you can use two of William Blake's poems, both titled "The Chimney Sweeper", to teach your students how to interpret poetic texts. These poems may serve as an introduction to the genre of Romantic poetry that gained popularity during the Industrial Revolution. They emphasize labor conditions during the Industrial Revolution in England and include references to the effects of coal burning, thought to be responsible for global warming.

Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in English Literature.

Grade Level: High School, Undergraduate
Discipline: Humanities
Topics: Analysis of Poetic Texts, Romantic Poetry, William Blake, Industrial Revolution, Child Labor, Chimney Sweeper, Coal Burning, Soot
Climate Topic: Climate and the Anthroposphere, Climate and the Atmosphere
Location: Global
Languages: English
Access: Online (some material can be downloaded for offline use)
Duration: 50-60 min

Learning outcomes

The tools in this lesson plan will enable students to:

  • learn to critically analyze poetry
  • describe the features of Romantic poetry
  • understand William Blake's prominence as a Romantic poet
  • discuss Romanticism in England in the context of the Industrial Revolution
  • explain how orphaned children and the poor were exploited during the early Industrial Revolution in England
  • describe the detrimental environmental effects of coal burning during the Industrial Revolution leading to significant carbon dioxide emissions that has contributed to global warming.
Lesson Plan contributed by Dr. Pooja Sancheti, IISER Pune, India