I am reminded these last few days of a poem my Dad used to recite for us as kids called We Are Seven. It is by Williams Wordsworth,( perfect name for a poet by the way) but I didn't know that til recently. My Dad
( God rest his soul) used to recite it when I was a little girl and I had only a faint recall of it- if any. When I began homeschooling my kids, using a classical curriculum I found all sorts of neat poems and books that seemed initially old fashioned, but were simply classics. Imagine my surprise to open a selection one day and find the very poem my Dad had recited come washing back over me in the pages. Reading it as an adult made me so sad to realize it was a poem about death and faith, and perspective. I could hear my Dads voice in each syllable. (Read the poem below if you'd like a glimpse of my Dads soft heart.)
We Are Seven ( by William Wordsworth)
------A simple Child,
------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,
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!”
I miss my boys.
But we are really 10.