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Analysis of “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”
Wordsworth’s “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” is a quick and strong poem that centers about the loss of someone close to the speaker. The poem is composed of two 4 line stanzas, which each adhere to a easy ABAB rhyme scheme and are primarily based on the abstract and unnamed concept of death.. The poem refers, as the title suggests, to a slumber that has had a profound impact on the speaker, and to a girl that the reader can assume to be dead. The poem, despite the fact that shrouded in ambiguity, possesses a unique emotional draw, which Wordsworth achieves by means of stylistic selections such as the simplicity of language, juxtaposed pictures, and, ironically, the absence of identifying specifics. “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal” is told from the 1st individual point of view, despite the fact that the speaker is not the principal concentrate of the poem it is instead focused predominantly on a girl whom the speaker has selected to leave unnamed. Of the poem’s eight lines, only the very first two refer to the speaker himself, and the remainder of the poem centers entirely around the girl—referred to by the speaker as “she”—who remains unidentified for the duration of the poem. This is perhaps the poem’s most distinctive characteristic: it is shrouded all through in ambiguity. Both the speaker and the “she” that is referred to throughout a lot of the poem are with out any identifying functions, and the reader is left with quite tiny concrete info about either character. The reader knows only that the speaker has seasoned a slumber of some sort—presumably a symbolic 1, even though this too is vague and unspecified—and that the “she” the speaker refers to is dead, which does not become apparent till the poem’s second and final stanza. The poem’s second stanza makes it fairly clear that the speaker is speaking about death, and that the “she” to which he refers has died. Though this is not explicitly stated in the text—the speaker by no means makes any direct reference to “death” or “dying”—it is strongly alluded to by the speaker’s remarks that she has “No motion… no force” (line five), as well as by his final statement that she is now “Rolled around… / With rocks, and stones, and trees” (lines 7-eight). Nonetheless, this is the extent of the data that the speaker offers about the girl the rest is left for the reader to infer and interpret. The speaker does not reveal how or when she died, whether or not she was young, or what the speaker’s partnership to her was—all issues that, it would look, are basic to the reader’s capability to achieve any semblance of understanding of the poem as a whole. Even so, though it may look counterintuitive to create so vaguely about the principal subjects of the poem, this stylistic option functions to help peak the reader’s interest in the speaker’s words. Beyond the obvious reality that the lack of detail needs the reader to actively believe and infer about the poem’s which means, the ambiguity surrounding the poem’s main characters enables the reader to connect far more deeply with its principal topic: death. The outcome of the speaker’s lack of specificity is that the reader is struck less by the character of either the speaker or the girl, but by the concept of death as a entire, leaving the reader with a vast capacity to interpret the poem as they want and apply its abstract concepts to their personal experiences with death and loss. This effect is aided by the truth that Wordsworth’s poem is short and comparatively simple, both in structure and in language. It is separated into two stanzas, dividing the poem into two distinct components that represent the past and present. This divide, though seemingly basic, contributes heavily to the poem as a complete. The initial stanza is told totally in past tense, whilst the second stanza is written in the present tense, separating the poem into two decidedly diverse sections. In this way, the very first stanza provides a context, albeit vague, for the death that is described in the second half of the poem. This structural shift in viewpoint from the 1st to the second stanza also contributes to the sense that the speaker is seeking back regretfully on the events top up to the girl’s death, and on his state of mind back when he believed, falsely, that “she… could not really feel / The touch of earthly years” (lines three-four). This emphasis placed on his miscalculation of the girl’s mortality contributes heavily to the sense of loss that characterizes the poem. In addition, despite the lack of detail presented to characterize either of the poem’s characters, Woodsworth’s decision of language and imagery add to the poem’s distinct tone, which make up for the absence of concrete detail. This is accomplished largely though the simplicity of language, as the poem is unencumbered by superfluous words and lengthy phrases, and relies rather on the raw emotion that this discussion of death evokes. Since the language does not serve as a barrier to the reader’s comprehension, the emotion of the poem is far more striking than if would be if the text was adorned with elevated diction and lengthy, complex sentences. This simplicity of language, coupled with the juxtaposition of imagery that the speaker employs, helps contribute to the poem’s wistful tone and its accompanying feeling of loss. For example, the statement in the initial stanza that “She seemed a factor that could now feel/ The touch of earthly years” (line four-five) is cleverly juxtaposed with the later imagery in the second stanza , in which the speaker describes the ambiguous “she” becoming “Rolled around in earth’s diurnal course, / With rocks, and stones, and trees” (lines 7-eight) in order to convey the sense that the speaker’s initial assumptions about death and the girl he describes were misguided. These two photos, which center about earthliness, are starkly contrasted to help paint a image of death and to leave the reader with a powerful sense of the speaker’s regret and sense of loss. The contrast between the image presented in the very first stanza and that of the second stanza represents the difference amongst the speaker’s perception of mortality and the reality of it in relation to the girl, generating the poem much far more poignant than the death of the unidentified girl could attain alone. Wordsworth’s “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal,” in spite of its apparent simplicity, is filled with the deepness and complexity of human emotion and the tragedy of death and loss. This poem’s energy lies, ironically, in its simplicity and ambiguity, which, combined, permit the reader to forge a deep emotional connection to the speaker’s reflection on death. Regardless of the poem’s surface-level ambiguity, the underlying feeling of the poem is quite clear, and the reader can very easily really feel and connect to the speaker’s sadness and regret more than failing to comprehend the mortality of an individual about whom he cared deeply.
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