Introduction

William Wordsworth, an English poet, penned and published “We Are Seven” in 1798. This poem originally published in the poetry series ‘Lyrical Ballads’. In “We Are Seven,” the speaker confronts a little girl who feels that her two departed siblings should be listed among her family members, depicting a traditional conflict between emotion and rationality. The speaker and the kid never come to an agreement, leaving further concerns about mortality and the power of familial relationships unanswered.

About The Poet

William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, England, on April 7, 1770, and died at Rydal Mount, Westmorland, on April 23, 1850. He was an English Romantic poet who co-authored Lyrical Ballads with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which contributed to kick off the Romantic Era in English literature.

Theme Of The Poem

In “We Are Seven,” the speaker recounts a chat with a young girl who claims that her family has seven children, despite the fact that two of them had died. The speaker emphasizes that her family now has just five children, and shows the young girl as being unable to accept death. The speaker implies that adolescent naivety leads to a happy but restricted awareness of the world, whereas adults are left to deal with life’s hard truths. 

Stanza 1

A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

The poet wonders what a sweet, loving, breathing kid who is completely full of liveliness knows about death.

Stanza 2

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

The speaker describes how he once met a small girl from the countryside. She had thick, curly hair and was eight years old.

Stanza 3

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
Her beauty made me glad.

The child’s look was scruffy and showed her rustic origins. Her eyes were stunning, and her attractiveness enchanted the speaker.

Stanza 4

“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?”
“How many? Seven in all,” she said,
And wondering looked at me.

The speaker inquired about the number of children in the little girl’s family. She answered that there were a total of seven children and glanced at the speaker with curiosity.

Stanza 5

“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.

After that, he requested the small girl to tell him where all of these kids resided. Two of the seven children resided in Conway (UK) and two have been at sea, according to the little girl.

Stanza 6

Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother.”

The girl went on to say that she and her mother dwelt in a neighbouring village and that two more siblings—one brother and one sister—were buried in the graveyard.

Stanza 7

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.” 

The speaker, perplexed, asked the adorable little girl to clarify how her family could have seven children if she only had two siblings in Conway and just two at the sea.

Stanza 8

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

Because two of her siblings were buried beneath a tree in the graveyard, the young girl stated that her family consisted of seven children.

Stanza 9

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.”

The speaker answered that because the small girl was awake, living and able to play and run around, and since two of her siblings were buried in the church cemetery that means there were only five children in her household

Stanza 10

Their graves are green, they may be seen,
The little Maid replied,
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,
And they are side by side. 

The small girl noticed that a fresh plant had sprung from the graves of her siblings. Her brother and sister were buried beside each other just steps away from the cottage where she lived with her mother. As a result, she could see and visit them frequently.

Stanza 11

“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 child went on to recount how she enjoyed spending time with her lost siblings by knitting, stitching her handkerchief, and singing them melodies while she knelt on the ground beside their gravesite.

Stanza 12

“And often after sun-set, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,

She further added that when the weather was fine after dusk, she would take a tiny bowl out to the cemeteries and eat her supper next to their graves.

Stanza 13

“The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

The speaker was then informed that the little girl’s sister, Jane, was the first to expire. Jane had been unwell and laying in bed, weeping in anguish, until God rescued her and she departed.

Stanza 14

“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. 

Jane was buried in the graveyard as a result, and when the weather permitted, the little girl and her brother, John, would play near her tomb.

Stanza 15

“And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side.”

However, one winter, when the earth was covered with slick, white snow that a young girl could play in, John died and was buried alongside Jane.

Stanza 16

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.”

Given that Jane and John had gone to paradise, the speaker asked the youngster how many siblings she had after she ended her narration. The small girl instantly answered that her family consisted of seven children.

Stanza 17

“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!”

The speaker said that her brother and sister had died and that their souls had ascended to paradise. The speaker realized he was wasting his time at this point since the small girl would not stop claiming that her family had seven children.