How does "We Are Seven" express the poet’s emotions and attitudes? How does he achieve this?

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The poet (or speaker) expresses his emotions and attitudes both directly through narration and indirectly through dialogue and action. The rhetorical question in the first stanza suggests that the speaker is attracted to the little girl and feels sorry for her: "feels its life in every limb / What should it know of death?" In the third stanza, the speaker directly says that the child makes him feel "glad," plus he describes her eyes as "fair," again indicating his favorable view of her. After that, the conversation takes over until the end, when the speaker shows his exasperation and surprise at the girl's stubbornness by saying he was "throwing words away" and that she "would have her will."

The way the speaker portrays the girl through her words also expresses his emotions indirectly. Although the speaker challenges the girl's counting abilities and/or her definition of "sisters and brothers," the little girl insists on counting her departed siblings in with the rest of the family members. The speaker maintains a favorable opinion of the girl throughout the conversation, calling her "sweet Maid" and "my little maid."

The most emotional parts of the poem are the little girl's description of how she and her brother played around the grave of "the first that died" and how she takes her "little porringer" and eats beside the graves of her brother and sister. The green graves, side by side, just "twelve steps or more from my mother's door" are described so simply, and with such candor, that one would have to have a heart of stone to not feel empathy toward the child. Certainly the language spoken by the girl and relayed by the speaker shows his sadness for her loss. Finally, the speaker's astonishment at the girl's insistence that her siblings, despite being in Heaven, were as much a part of her life as ever comes through in the speaker's final exclamation, emphasized by repetition: "But they are dead; those two are dead!"

The speaker's emotions come through the poem directly in the narration and indirectly through his reported conversation with the little Maid.

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