Tag: classics

We Are Seven


This has been one of my favorite poems since I was quite young.

WE ARE SEVEN   by William Wordsworth 1798-A SIMPLE Child, That lightly draws its breath

And feels its life in every limb,

What should it know of death?

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.

She had a rustic, woodland air,

And she was wildly clad:                                    

Her eyes were fair, and very fair;

–Her beauty made me glad.

“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,

How many may you be?”

“How many? Seven in all,” she said

And wondering looked at me.

“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.                                    

“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.”

“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.”

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.”

“You run about, my little Maid,

Your limbs they are alive;

If two are in the church-yard laid,

Then ye are only five.”

“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.                                  

“My stockings there I often knit,

My kerchief there I hem;

And there upon the ground I sit,

And sing a song to them.

“And often after sunset, Sir,

When it is light and fair,

I take my little porringer,

And eat my supper there.

“The first that died was sister Jane;

In bed she moaning lay,                                     

Till God released her of her pain;

And then she went away.

“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.

“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.”                                   

“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.”

“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!”

1798.

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A Little Walt Whitman


When I heard the learn’d astronomer by Walt Whitman

 

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

Just wanted to share some genius with you today.  Those old poets really knew how to make a point.  I had a really tough English teacher two years in a row.  A.P. English was perhaps the most difficult class I ever took.  But Mrs. H pushed my lazy ass and I wrote.  I also got grounded if my grade was below a B and in Mrs. H’s class a C was normal.  I got grounded a few times but usually I intercepted the PINK SLIP she would write to alert my mother of my shameful grade.   I remember reading this and totally understanding it, I had the best discussion with Mrs. H about this poem.  I got an A.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is America’s world poet — a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. In his Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855 and revised and expanded for the rest of his life, he celebrated democracy, nature, love, and friendship. This monumental work chanted praises to the body as well as to the soul, and found beauty and reassurance even in death.

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