We remember William Wordsworth not just as a poet but also as a revolutionary human being. Wordsworth who, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published the Lyrical Ballads was one of the founders of English Romanticism. He spent much of his life in the countryside in close contact with nature which would later have a huge influence in his poetry.
Romantic poets tend to have a high sense of spiritual connection with nature. William Wordsworth’s poem A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is also heavily influenced by a spirituality that helps a great deal to overcome the loss of a beloved. In fact, this particular poem is one of the most debated short poems regarding its meaning. So, what is the summary of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal and what kind of analysis is most suitable? Moreover, what are the themes of this poem? Let’s find them out in their respective sections below.
William Wordsworth’s ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
A slumber did my spirit seal;I had no human fears:She seemed a thing that could not feelThe touch of earthly years.No motion has she now, no force;She neither hears nor sees;Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Summary of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’
The title and the first line of Wordsworth’s poem A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal are the same. The speaker begins by telling that he was soundly asleep at that time he had no fear at all. He introduces an unspecified woman who seems to have died. For him, the woman seemed like she would never age. That’s all for the first stanza.
In the second stanza of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, the speaker indirectly announced that the lady, probably his beloved, is dead. He states that she can no longer move because she does not have any energy. Moreover, she has also lost the senses of hearing and seeing. In the last two lines, the speaker declares that his beloved has become a part of the earth and she rolls around with rocks, stones, and trees as a daily routine of the earth.
William Wordsworth’s ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’: Rhyme Scheme, Analysis
William Wordsworth’s poem A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal has two stanzas, each with consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme of this poem is abab cdcd which gives a musical sense to the poem.
By the time the poem, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, opens, the speaker seems to have already lost the love of his life. Most critics interpret that the speaker is literally asleep in the first line: “A slumber did my spirit seal.” However, ‘A slumber’ might mean the eternal sleep of the woman the speaker talks about. In the second line, he argues that he had no ‘human fears’ which means the fear of death.
In the third line of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, the speaker officially introduces a lady for the first time. ‘She seemed a thing’ means she is no more because we call ‘a thing’ to inanimate objects. Hence, ‘thing’ can be taken as the corpse of the woman who recently passed away. The ‘thing’ also “could not feel/ The touch of earthly years.” In this context, ‘earthly years’ refers to the process of aging, and the deceased lady has stopped feeling this process.
The first stanza of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is in the simple past tense while the second stanza is in the simple present. In the second stanza, the speaker gives further hints for us to make out the death of a female. He reveals the loss of the woman’s senses of feeling, hearing, and seeing. “Rolled around in earth’s diurnal course,/ With rocks, and stones, and trees” means she has been buried and has become a part of the earth. The speaker is not sad at all at the loss because he understands that she has become nature which lasts till eternity. Rocks, stones, and trees all are parts of nature and the dead lady has mixed into them now.
What is the Theme of William Wordsworth’s Poem ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’?
It’s quite challenging to point out the themes of William Wordsworth’s poem A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. According to our understanding, it carries the themes of death as a natural process, a celebration of eternity, romanticism, etc.
- Death – death as part of a natural process is the primary theme of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. Hence, the speaker does not mourn the death of his supposedly beloved.
- Eternity – the celebration of eternity is another important theme of the given poem. Like nature, death is an eternal process from where nobody can come back to life ever again. Nevertheless, the speaker thinks death is a beautiful relief from earthly troubles.
- Romanticism – romanticism is also a powerful theme of Wordsworth’s A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. We get this idea only at the end of the poem where the speaker names some gifts of nature i.e. trees, rocks, and stones. He does not mourn over the death of ‘She’ because he knows, she has entered the world of eternity.
Listen to the recitation of William Wordsworth’s poem A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal!