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Slumber literally translates to “deep sleep.” William Wordsworth uses the word “slumber” in the poem “A Slumber did my Spirit Seal” to describe the death of sensations that flood the poet’s heart following the death of his sweetheart. The poet chose the word to represent his pain and sorrow at the time. The poet is devastated by the death of his loved one and is unable to recover. He is so startled and heartbroken that he has numbness throughout his body and is unable to move. He loses all awareness of his own emotions, as well as all human fears. Simultaneously, the poet recognises that he must accept his fate and move on with his life. He begins to have a fresh perspective on death. He understands that death is unavoidable and that one must accept death as an eternal aspect of existence. The poet teaches the reader that individuals can live on as part of nature even after death. She is encased in rocks and mud, buried beneath the earth’s boundaries, unmoving, lifeless, unable to hear or see. She moves with the earth as it circles and revolves around the sun.
Textual questions and answers
1. “A slumber did my spirit seal,” says the poet. That is, a deep sleep ‘closed off’ his soul (or mind). How does the poet react to his loved one’s death? Does he feel bitter grief? Or does he feel great peace?
Answer: The poet is heartbroken over the loss of a loved one. He is overcome with grief and greatly misses the person.
2. The passing of time will no longer affect her, says the poet. Which lines of the poem say this?
Answer: “No motion has she now, no force-” is the line of the poem that says the dead person will not be affected by the passage of time.
Or The poet felt that she would not be affected by age. Which lines of the poem say this?
Answer: The following lines of the poem express the poet’s belief that she would never age: “She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.”
3. How does the poet imagine her to be, after death? Does he think of her as a person living in a very happy state (a ‘heaven’)? Or does he see her now as a part of nature? In which lines of the poem do you find your answer?
Answer::Wordsworth believes that the person had become one with nature after her death. The poem’s lines that support the poet’s viewpoint are:
“Rolled round in Earth’s diurnal course
With rocks and stones and trees.”
Extra/additional questions and answers
1. What were the feelings of the poet towards the person before her death?
Answer: When the poet’s beloved was alive, he believed she would never age, and thus he had no fear of losing her.
7. What is the poem’s central theme?
Answer: The poem is about the grief that comes with losing a loved one through death. The poet was devastated by Lucy’s death. However, Wordsworth expresses the idea that, while death may remove us from our loved ones, they are always present in the shape of nature. Lucy is immortalised by Wordsworth, who claims that she lingers on in Nature after her bodily death. As a result, we should not be saddened by the loss of a loved one.
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