Life and Death of Woodsworth

Life and Death of Woodsworth

Life and Death in Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven”
As a romantic poet and a lover of nature and humanity, William Wordsworth wrote often about life and death. His lyrical ballad “We Are Seven” looks at these issues from the perspective of both an adult and a child, posing the question of whether death truly separates the living from the departed. Wordsworth had a strong family tie with his sister, Dorothy, and an affinity for the world of nature, in which he spent much of his childhood. The happy memories of playing in and exploring the natural world inspired him throughout his life, and he maintained a close relationship with Dorothy. This feeling of family closeness, combined with his vision of children as creatures attuned to nature and untouched by the cares of adult life, is evident in “We Are Seven.”
The poet begins by juxtaposing the attributes and promise of a child’s life with the specter of death:
A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death? (Wordsworth 1-4)
Wordsworth presents the image of an innocent child, an eight-year-old girl that he, as the poem’s narrator, encounters on a walk through the countryside. By describing her as possessing “a rustic, woodland air” (9), he evokes a feeling of the unadulterated innocence of the natural world, unspoiled by the interference of civilized society. The narrator, who is evidently a practical-minded gentleman, questions the little girl about the size of her family, particularly the number of her siblings:
“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me. (13-16)
Upon further questioning as to the disposition of her family members, the child replies that, of the seven children, “[T]wo of us at Conway dwell, / And two are gone to sea” (19-20). It is not until she elaborates that the poem’s message is revealed. When she tells the narrator that “‘Two of us in the churchyard...

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