Famous Death Poem

In this poem, Williams Wordsworth (1770-1850) addresses big questions about life and death. The speaker in the poem is talking with a little girl about her family. Two of the children in her family have died, but she continues to tell the man that she has seven members in her family. The man, however, tries to convince her that her family consists of only five now. She will not change her mind - for her brother and sister will always be a part of her family. This poem is written in the form of a ballad, which is generally narrative and follows the ABAB rhyme scheme.

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I read this poem many, many years ago in a children's poem book. When my youngest brother passed...I was broken. At his funeral, someone said, "There are only 5 of you now." I thought of this...

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Famous Poem

We Are Seven

William Wordsworth By more William Wordsworth

———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 sun-set, 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!”


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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • Samantha Bean by Samantha Bean
  • 2 years ago

I read this poem many, many years ago in a children's poem book. When my youngest brother passed...I was broken. At his funeral, someone said, "There are only 5 of you now." I thought of this poem and replied, "Nay, we are six." He was 18 I was 24. Even after everything calmed down, we siblings still counted him, and people wanted us to "just get over it." I got a tat that states Nay Sir We Are Six. Even 11 years later, people will ask why I still count my brother. I just turn my arm so they can read, "Nay Sir We Are Six."

  • MaryLou Hoffman by MaryLou Hoffman
  • 3 years ago

"When a spouse dies, the one remaining is a widow/widower.
When your parents die, you are an orphan.
There is no name for the parent of a child who has passed."

I have two children. One I can speak to and he answers me now. The other I can speak to and she will answer me when I join her one day.

  • Hamida by Hamida
  • 2 years ago

Your words, though short, are deeply profound. Thank you for sharing.

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