Analysis of A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was the poet of nature. He was an English poet and one of the best known figures of the Romantic period. He defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and emotions”. His views on poetical style are the most revolutionary. His poems are a reaction to Augustan Poetry which are more political than intellectual.

‘A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’ by William Wordsworth is one of five “Lucy” poems that Wordsworth published in the volume Lyrical Ballads. These pieces are all focused on the idealized love of a speaker for a girl by the name of Lucy. A Slumber did my Spirit Seal’ is the speaker’s deep realization of Lucy’s death. Like Shakespeare attributed immortality to his beloved through his lines of poetry, Wordsworth attribute Lucy an eternal life by seeing her in every objects of nature.

 

Overview

Title: First line of the poem, implies that slumber keeps his soul calm and quiet. It might tell about his calm mental state due to the understanding about the relationship among life, death and nature.

Form: two short stanzas, each a quatrain

Meter: lines alternate between iambic tetrameter (that is, lines of four iambs, metrical feet that go da-DUM) and iambic trimeter (lines that use three iambs). The iambic pulse of these lines sounds a lot like a heartbeat; Like the life of the speaker's beloved, the rhythm seems as if it could go on steadily forever.

Rhyme: Ballad, ABAB CDCD

Tone: Tone shifts from dreamlike into desperate consolation.

Theme: man’s relationship with nature, death and be free from human death (Lucy becoming a part of nature making her secure and eternal)

Narration: first person, the narrator may be the poet himself or a universal figure. 

 

Deep-end Analysis

 

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

 

metaphor: a slumber did my spirit seal (meditative mental condition that made him aware)

personification: slumber did (light sleep acts as a person) to shut off his soul.

sibilant: slumber, spirit seal (strong consonant sound ‘sh’) gentle and quiet sighing sound.

caesura:  last two lines (line is broken in the middle)

 

Slumber is the state of sleep which one is not fast asleep. During this period of sleep people see dreams. As speaker says, slumber helps him to keep his spirit calm and aware of the moment. In that state of mind, he feels that he is free from the fears of human life. In the world of human, people suffer from many fears like: birth, death, sickness, getting old, meeting of unpleasant people and losing the dear and beloved ones. It seems he has lifted his life beyond human level to spiritual level by understanding the nature of life.  

He sees that Lucy is released from the time line of the human world and joined infinite stream of time, becoming eternal. Being released from the physical body, she has no bond to the world of human. He understands that she is beyond his detection and attributes her an eternal life.

 

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.

 

consonance: rolled round/rocks (strong consonant r sound) feeling of rotating.

assonance: rolled round/course

caesura:  last two lines (line is broken into two parts)

polysyndeton: using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted

repetition: and (draws some parallels among the natural elements and Lucy)

 

She is calm and disconnected from the world of human. She has joined the natural cause of the nature. As poet says, death is something like being released from the physical body and being a part of the nature. Similarly, Lucy too has become a part of nature - mingling with its objects like rocks, stones and trees. That means, she has joined the force of nature and is an integral part of it. Thus is seen in every natural object. (She is seen everywhere.)

By doing so, the speaker attributes everlasting life to Lucy. By looking at nature he can see her. This is a very graphical example of Wordsworth’s concern about the man’s relationship with nature. He shows the bond between human and the nature and requests to see their lost dear ones through the objects of nature. Just like some countries believe when one dies they become a shining star in the sky.  

The poem reveals a deep realization of life and death. Wordsworth sees death is as something positive. He shows that it is like an upgrade of life from mortal state to immortal. Most importantly he faces the departure of Lucy with understanding and associate her death with the nature to make her infinite in the endless stream of time.

You may read Analysis of To a Snowdrop by William Wordsworth here.

This analysis may be slightly different from what you have read. It is surly open for criticisms. Leave a comment to give your views on the poem. Share the post if you find it useful to others.

 

Post a Comment

1 Comments