WE ARE SEVEN
by William Wordsworth
“Written at Alfoxden in the spring of 1798, under circumstances somewhat remarkable. The little girl who is the heroine I met within the area of Goodrich Castle in the year 1793. …To return to “We are seven,” the piece that called forth this note, I composed it while walking in the grove at Alfoxden.
One evening he came to me with a grave face, and said, “Wordsworth, I have seen the volume that Coleridge and you are about to publish. There is one poem in it which I earnestly entreat you will cancel, for, if published, it will make you everlastingly ridiculous.” I answered that I felt much obliged by the interest he took in my good name as a writer, and begged to know what was the unfortunate piece he alluded to. He said, “It is called ‘We are seven.'” Nay! said I, that shall take its chance, however, and he left me in despair. I have only to add that in the spring of 1841 I revisited Goodrich Castle, not having seen that part of the Wye since I met the little Girl there in 1793. It would have given me greater pleasure to have found in the neighbouring hamlet traces of one who had interested me so much; but that was impossible, as unfortunately I did not even know her name. The ruin, from its position and features, is a most impressive object. I could not but deeply regret that its solemnity was impaired by a fantastic new Castle set up on a projection of the same ridge, as if to show how far modern art can go in surpassing all that could be done by antiquity and nature with their united graces, remembrances, and associations.
——–A SIMPLE Child,
I met a little cottage Girl:
She had a rustic, woodland air,
“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
“Two of us in the church-yard lie,
“You say that two at Conway dwell,
Then did the little Maid reply,
“You run about, my little Maid,
“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
“My stockings there I often knit,
“And often after sunset, Sir,
“The first that died was sister Jane;
“So in the church-yard she was laid;
“And when the ground was white with snow,
“How many are you, then,” said I,
“But they are dead; those two are dead!