We are Seven
Written by British romantic poet William Wordsworth, the poem We are Seven talks
about the innocence of children and the tragedy of death. Some sources state that the
initial stanzas were written by Wordsworth’s good friend Samuel Coleridge. He was also
a very well-known poet from the romantic period.
The poem commences with the poet speculating about children’s comprehension of
death, “What should it know of death?” He speaks. He then recalls meeting a little girl,
merely eight years old with curly hair. He notes that the child was had a more rural look
to her, but her beauty delighted the poet.
The poet then questions the little girl asking about the number of siblings she had.
When she answered that they were seven, the poet further inquires about their
whereabouts. She says that they are seven, two live in Conway, two more are sailing at
sea and two of them lie in the churchyard near the cottage that she inhabits with her
mother. So, the poet asks how can you be seven if two are away and two are at sea,
the girl retorts that they are seven because two lie beneath the churchyard tree. The
speaker points out that she can run, that she has lived in her limbs and if two are
buried, they are only five.
The youngster then says their graves have fresh grass on them and they can be seen.
She talks about how close they are to her home, merely twelve steps away. She goes
on to say that knits there, sing to their graves, and often takes her supper there as
well. Jane, her sister, was the first one to die from the sickness she explains. Then in the
winter her brother John died and was buried beside her. Upon hearing this, the poet
says then how many are you if two of them are in heaven, but the girl only reiterates her previous statement.
Feeling exasperated the poet one last time says that they are dead,
but the girl only declares, “Nay, we are seven!”
This poem from the Lyrical Ballad presents the conversation that supports the poet’s
initial thought that children do not grasp the idea of mortality. The little girl that he
encounters is so incredibly innocent that she is blissfully unaware of the truth of life.
We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven We are Seven