Attempt a critical appreciation of the poem "We Are Seven" by William Wordsworth.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Several of Wordsworth's poems in the Lyrical Ballads are concerned with the wisdom of children and the failure of adults to understand them. In "We Are Seven ," the simplicity of the vocabulary, rhymes, and meter all reinforce the perspective of the child who is described as "simple" in...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Several of Wordsworth's poems in the Lyrical Ballads are concerned with the wisdom of children and the failure of adults to understand them. In "We Are Seven," the simplicity of the vocabulary, rhymes, and meter all reinforce the perspective of the child who is described as "simple" in the first line.

The poet begins by asking what a child could know about death. He then makes this general query specific my relating his encounter with a little girl. His question, how many siblings she has, seems merely arbitrary, but when she replies with a response he does not understand, he becomes interested, then rather annoyed, and begins to argue.

The girl seems to be under no illusions about death. She describes how Jane, the first of the children to die, lay moaning in bed:

Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.
However, she will not exclude the dead children from the total of her brothers and sisters. The short, simple words in brief clauses and sentences, along with the naturalness of the actions she describes, reinforce the transparency of her argument. Her interlocutor, however, becomes more and more exasperated, his irritation showing in the exclamatory nature of his final words. The little girl, though, has the very last word in the poem, and an extra line and rhyme in the final stanza for emphasis:
“But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team