“We Are Seven” is a poem written by William Wordsworth, published in his 1798 collection of poems Lyrical Ballads. It is comprised of 69 lines which are separated into 17 stanzas (16 quatrains and one quintet), and it has a simple ABAB rhyme scheme.
“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.
The poem is, essentially, a dialog between an adult man (the speaker) and a little girl whose two siblings have died. There were originally seven children in the house, but now there are only five. However, the girl refuses to believe that her siblings are gone.
“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
She believes that even though they are not present physically, they still live with her through her fond and happy memories. Thus, the title is an interesting element of the poem, as it symbolizes the girl’s never-ending love towards her siblings and her hope that she will see them again.
“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”
It is noteworthy to mention that Wordsworth’s goal was to make us understand that, even though she’s been through such pain and tragedy, the little girl is very optimistic, positive, and wise. If the speaker was in her place, he would’ve undoubtedly become depressed, unable to cope with the loss of his siblings.
“How many are you, then,” said I,
“If they two are in heaven?”
Quick was the little Maid’s reply,
“O Master! we are seven.”
Essentially, Wordsworth tells us that, when it comes to death, loss, pain, love, and hope, we should all have the same opinions as the little girl, and instead of focusing on the fact that our loved ones are no longer with us, we should focus on remembering the happy moments we shared with them.
“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!”