January 9, 2018
Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0
Please log in to the parent site for access.
I think that this poem does a good job of representing different understandings of death, there’s a gray area and lack of clarity in trying to define what death is. Here, the poem seems to question what death means in terms of body versus what it means in terms of spirit. The speaker would be correct in saying that there are five children physically, because the other two have died and therefore their bodies/their person no longer exist. However, the little girl is also correct in saying that they are seven children, because their spirit and previous existence cannot be discounted or eliminated just because their bodies are no longer present. There are seven children, but two exist in spirit instead of in body.
This assumption of significance in the commonplace scenes and events of everyday life is a hallmark of Romanticism, and WW seems at pains to imply that the meaning of this poem is not in any special story or event from Lee’s life, but in the phenomena of his very existence. Lee’s early robustness and prowess and his deterioration in old age themselves convey profound meaning about human life and experience with a compelling alternative power that needs no illustrative narrative with a beginning, middle, and ending, and with crafted suspense, climax, and denouement. The philosophic eye of the Poet, who succeeds and supplants the empirical Scientist of the preceding age, intuits and grasps the presence of the miraculous in the familiar, and conveys it through his utterances.
This stanza really stuck out to me and made me think of the materialism that so many people were trying to break away from at the time. The fear is brought up earlier in the poem, while he is in nature. Maybe this walk in nature, that was a perfect effortless beauty made him think of how materialism can distract life and cluster it up. especially as a poet, this could lessen your creative talent, making you worthless and unable to write. This lose of talent could lead to sadness, pains and “fleshy ills”, which sound awful.
Throughout this whole poem the two sides are negotiating the differences between whether or not one still exists are they are physically dead. Here in the paragraph and the following paragraph are detailed different activities that are done with the deceased member of the seven. Things like knitting, hemming, sitting, singing and eating are all described. The part that I wanted to touch on was how in our current lives we do not interact with each other as much as she interacts with a deceased member of her seven. We sit in silence and play on our phones. This shows that the ideas of held by the maiden are that of a bygone era. If we are so disconnect from those that we would currently constitute as alive one can only fear how we interact with those that we would consider deceased.
The speaker begins this poem by almost declaratively stating that a child who is full of life could know nothing about death. Possibly implying that if one did, they would not be so full of life. He then meets a little girl who tells him she and her siblings equal 7 even though 2 are in the church-yard laid. He, as persistent as she, tries to convince her there are only 5 rather than 7.
This was interesting to me because often times we look at death in a sorrowful way even though it is inevitable for everyone. We continue to choose to keep that sadness or bitterness close to our hearts knowing there is nothing we can do about death itself. The little girl who lost 2 of her siblings has a different perspective. She celebrates life and death by going to the grave and sometimes eating or knitting or playing with her other siblings there. I didn’t see her as naive in that way, but instead she accepted the inevitable with grace.
meant to post this on We Are Seven.
[“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!”]
This whole poem resonated with me dearly. To be a little personal for a bit, I am the youngest of seven children and two of them have died, one in 1983 by a drunk driver (my oldest brother) and the second one in 1988 by suicide (my brother up from me) so I understand entirely on the little Maid saying they are still seven as I do the same.
Now, I read this as a bond-a personal understanding as it were-and as such, her insistence of saying that they are seven still is letting the gentleman telling her there is only five left know that it simply doesn’t matter if they are dead, they are still counted as part of the family, just as they should be. Her insisting upon it is what should happen and the close-minded gentleman needs to just agree with her instead of arguing.
On a side note, I would like to know why the gentleman seems to care about whether they are five or seven, and what his reasoning is for not acknowledging the two that have died. It does not matter if they are alive or dead, they still lived and will forever be a part of the family.
Thank you for sharing that, Kim.
In answer to your closing query, I think Wordsworth is concerned here, like Blake, to contrast innocence and experience–and by extension feeling/imagination (on the part of the child) with logic and reason (as exemplified by the speaker).
This poem is really reminiscent of the oral tradition of telling stories. Not only does it address the reader, or would be listener, but it rhymes in an ABAB style that’s very similar to a limerick/lyric. This form helps drive home the pastoral vibe of the piece–you can imagine this being sung on a street corner, which compliments the lonely feeling of it.
“a little man” “he once was tall” we loose six inches before death and “three score and ten” Score equals 20 years, plus the 10 would make 70, so the lines are saying “He says he is 70, but others say he’s 80,” so he claims to be younger than he is. by 70, he could easily have shrunk by 3 inches, by 80 4 or even 5 is possible. He would not have shrunk more than that, however. But, it’s just a poem, so it’s romantic and embellished and we think to ourselves that he lost ten inches or something, or maybe a foot, when we just read this casually without thinking much about it. Maybe he stoops more and that adds to his shrinking too. I don’t know.
Its interesting that this returning bad for good was an issue in his day. I thought it was only a modern thing. So, it’s good to read these old poems and see what the culture was like back then, and in ways, similar to ours. Some things are just human, I guess. So, this old man was grateful and showed normal grateful reactions to being helped.
I like the way that he watches people, interacts with them, then writes about them. He seems like an unselfish author. He also doesn’t force his views down our throat, the way that Mary Wollstonecraft and so many others do. His work is pleasant to read and we learn things in a warm and pleasant atmosphere.
He adds to the theme of missing loved ones, but having them in our hearts, through the nature that they themselves have returned to. His heartfelt words invoke deep emotion and give the audience the feelings he is trying to share, the feeling of nature comforting us. For example the river as his friend, which is something many people never really feel, but he understands this concept of natural surroundings actually being the result of all our losses, for all these thousands of years, here everyone is, in the river, the trees, the landscape, we’re all still here together.
This poem proposes the idea that even in that day and age good deeds seemed few a far in between. The hard working man seems especially grateful for the man’s help. It seems that not many have taken the chance to care about his struggles.
One of the key points of Wordsworth pieces are about self-formation and post-childhood struggle, as discussed in class. Here the girl believes that her other siblings are in Heaven, but he is wise enough to know they are dead. As an adult, when someone dies they are excluded right away. Here he showcases the naivety and hopefulness of children when it comes to death versus what in the eyes of an adult we understand to happen. Heaven is a way for children to make with loss of someone.
The human tendency toward overt pridefulness and egotism leaves the author feeling forlorn. Not many are able to put aside these characteristics which make people more reliant on constant gratification through shallow portals like mail and things of the like. In today’s society man still struggles to overcome these qualities. We lean toward social media and other things to keep us from deeper feeling and observation of the profundity in life.
The wording here is important to understand the child’s nativity. She does not seem to understand that her brother didn’t have to die. From a religious standpoint, children are told that God is calling his angels back when they die, that they have to go. She obviously believes this but the author, obviously aged on the girl, doesn’t believe that it is in anyway possible for him to be called anywhere, rather than he died because was sick. The very distinctive views of life from children to adults.
Maybe this also gives meaning to the death.
This sonnet reminded me of our discussion in Tuesday’s class about stasis and movement in Wordsworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence”. “Mutability” stood out to me because the poem is always moving. The explicit subject matter shifts from music notes to truth and then to time.
With the music notes, Wordsworth capitalizes on his word choice using phrases like “low to high” and “high to low” as well as “climb” and “sink” to make the reader feel like the poem is performing those actions. Wordsworth then provides stability be claiming that Truth will always remain, even though it will take on different forms. These forms, the frost and the tower, melt and crumble respectively due to the passage of time.
I think that Wordsworth’s strength in this poem was using poetic devices to convey that nothing is permanent and the world is ever-changing.
[In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind.]
Herman Melville recorded an interesting annotation to this passage where it is excerpted in his copy of William Hazlitt’s Lectures on the English Poets. This stanza and the poem as a whole illustrate what I described last class as the “doctrine of the imperfect.” For Wordsworth here seems to acknowledge that the joys of his earlier life are forever lost to him. But whereas these are irreplaceable, the duty to continue provides its own compensatory consolation. This does not lead back to innocent bliss, but forward to hard-won wisdom, and the “philosophic mind.”
The discussion of all the things that can contribute to experience and can corrupt the concept of innocence here reminds us that not all the things that could be seen as leading to experience would have to be negatives in life. Where he talks of a a wedding or a festival or the light from his father’s eyes. We have talked in class about the continued use of the ideas of experience versus innocence but this is a different way to go about that comparison. With the other works focusing on more widely held dark ideas, like death or the corruption in towns because the cause of experience.
I was drawn in the last few lines, starting at “Our souls have sight of that immortal sea…”
This whole poem made me think almost of reincarnation, but more so about a man trying to grip life before and after, in the limited way that he can in this era.
This passage gave me a particular feeling of hope that Wordsworth was feeling for after death. That we have come from the ocean of life, and death is our way of appreciating and reaching that ocean again.
Leave a comment on the whole Page
Leave a comment on paragraph 1
Mail (will not be published)
January 24, 2018 at 10:01 pm
See in context
January 24, 2018 at 8:59 pm
January 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm
January 24, 2018 at 1:56 am
January 23, 2018 at 11:01 pm
January 23, 2018 at 10:53 pm
January 23, 2018 at 10:48 pm
January 23, 2018 at 10:08 pm
January 23, 2018 at 8:34 pm
January 23, 2018 at 7:58 pm
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
Website content © ENGL 268 Readings 2018. All rights reserved.
Enter the destination URL
Or link to existing content