William Wordsworth We are Seven/Stylistic analysis
The poem is composed of sixteen four-line stanzas, and ends with one five-line stanza. Each stanza has an abab rhyming pattern.
- Symbolism: In this poem the words “simple girl”, “little cottage girl”, “little maid” are the symbols of childish innocence. The little girl knows that her siblings are dead: ” Two of us in the church-yard lie, My sister and my brother”, but she still has memories with them and she images it to play and live with them ( they are dead physically but alive in her imagination).
- Imagery: Imagery makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. Examples in “We are seven”:
“Her eyes were fair, and very fair;” – show the little maid’s eyes (visual imagery)
“Their graves are green, they may be seen,” – show the little girl’s siblings location (visual imagery)
“Together round her grave we played, - show the action that she plays (kinesthetic imagery)
“And sing a song to them.”- show that here is the sound of singing (auditory imagery)
“In bed she moaning lay,”- show that there is the sound of moaning (auditory imagery)
- Metaphor: Following are the different metaphors which are used by the poet in this poem to make the thoughts more effective and expressive: “That lightly draws its breath…” - This line shows vitality of the little maid.
“Their graves are green, they may be seen …” – This line shows the vivid presence in the graves that represent the death. “My brother John was forced to go…” - The maids brother just died.
- Antithesis: there is a contradiction of the ideas. If two of seven siblings are dead it means that now they are five not seven, but the little girl stubbornly repeats that they are seven:
“She answered, Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell, And two are gone to sea . Two of us in the church-yard lie, My sister and my brother…”
- Rhethorical questions: The author makes a great use of rhetorical questions which appear in this poem in order to make a point, rather than to elicit the answer. Example: “What should it know of death?” , “And where are they?”
- Repetitions: Wordsworth repeats also some phrases or sentences in order to emphasize something: "Nay, we are seven!" The little girl continuously repeats this phrase in the poem to convince the narrator that her two deceased siblings are still her siblings. Another example: “Two of us in the church-yard lie”.
- Allegory (extended metaphor): In this poem the story has a second meaning. The little girl is apparently unaware of death as she maintains that she has seven siblings even if they are dead. On the other hand, she is conscious of emotions related to pain and suffering. She is even more experienced than adults.
- Polyptoton: The authors uses also the polyptoton repeating words, which are derived from the same root: “And sing a song to them”.
- Polysyndeton: Wordsworth uses several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some could otherwise be omitted :
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
- Euphemism: In this poem the author substitutes words and phrases that might be consider harsh or unpleasant with some polite expressions: “ And then she went away.”, “My brother John was forced to go..” instead of “die” .