In William Wordsworth's poem, what is the significance of the repetitive words in "We Are Seven?""We are Seven," by William Wordsworth.

2 Answers | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In William Wordsworth's poem, "We are Seven," the line that is repeated in one form or another is "we are seven."

It is repeated twice as "we are seven," and once as "seven are we."

Repetition in poetry is used to stress, in this case, an idea. So that the reader does not miss the point, the poet will often repeat it.

In this poem, the little girl points out several times, when asked the number of children in her family, "we are seven." The speaker's confusion arises because two of the seven children in this family are buried in the graveyard next to the child's cottage. In his adult mind, it means they are "gone."

However, for the eight-year old child that is explaining, she sees the brother and sister she has lost as no more distant to her than her siblings at sea, and the two who now live in Conway. In this child's mind, the fact that they have passed on does not convey a sense of loss to her.

She visits with them regularly as she does her chores or sings to them...

"My stockings there I often knit, My kerchief there I hem; And there upon the ground I sit, And sing a song to them.

The little girl even explains that when her sister dies, before her brother passes, they both still play where her sister rests:

"So in the church-yard she was laid; And, when the grass was dry, Together round her grave we played, My brother John and I.

In essence, the adult sees these children having left their life on earth to live in heaven, but for the little girl, she is not sad as she feels the presence of her siblings just as clearly as if they were sitting next to her.

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In the poem "We are Seven" by William Wordsworth, a little girl is seen playing in a churchyard. In the poem the poet attempts to ask the girl how many are in her family. She is a very energetic girl who is full of life. When the girl tells them that there are seven siblings all together, she proceeds to explain to him where each are.

This is when the poet realizes that two of the siblings are actually buried in the churchyard, making the siblings only five.

After this, the girl uses the repetition: "nay, we are seven" and "we are still seven" for two reasons.  First, she is too innocent to understand the concept of terminal loss. As Wordsworth says in the first stanza "what does she know about death?" Second, she has not lost the sense of completeness that her family represents to her as a whole.  Whether the brother and sister are buried or not, they are still her brother and sister.  They will always be seven.

Finally, one can also apply the repetition to Wordsworth's own creative license in insisting on keeping "the family" together in a form of constant belief that death does not separate, but bring people closer together to their essence . This is significant to the repetitive words in "We are Seven."

We’ve answered 317,729 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question