William Wordsworth was a pioneer of Romanticism in English poetry and is considered as one of the greatest lyric poets in the history of English literature. He was born on April 7, 1770, at Cockermouth, England. His first volume of poems was published in 1793. It was in 1843 that he became Britain’s Poet Laureate.
In the poem ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’, the poet expresses his views after the death of the beloved. Initially, the poet is shocked. He is deeply grieved and troubled by the death of his beloved. He has gone numb but in his numbness, he realizes that he needs to move on and accept his fate. He develops a different attitude to death. He realizes that death is inevitable and he needs to accept the fact that his beloved is no more. He shows the readers that even after death, his beloved or all our beloved dead people are alive as a part of nature. They are free from worldly affairs and are immortal.
The word ‘Slumber’ literally means deep sleep. In the poem, William Wordsworth refers to the word ‘Slumber’ to the death of sensations that fills the poet’s heart after the death of his beloved. The poet has used the word to express his grief and sorrows he was suffering from. The poet is aghast at the death of his loved one and he is not able to come out of it. He is so shocked and sad that he can feel the numbness in his body and he is not able to move. He becomes numb to all his sensations and also becomes void of all human fears. At the same time, the poet realizes that he needs to accept his fate and move on with life. He develops a different attitude towards death. He realizes that death is inevitable and one needs to accept that death is the eternal truth of life. The poet tells the reader that even after death, people can be alive as a part of nature. He seems to be immortalizing his beloved one in making her merge with cosmic forces of the Universe.
A slumber did my spirit seal.
I had no human fears.
She seemed a thing that could not feel.
The touch of earthly years.
In this stanza, the poet expresses his grief over the death of a loved one. He says that he is so shocked with the death of a loved one that he feels that his soul has gone into a deep sleep. He has become completely numb and senseless. Now the poet does not have any human fears like loss, death, etc. After her death, she seems to him like a thing who cannot feel anything present in this Earth. She is not affected by the physical existence of humans including human fears and time. His beloved passed away peacefully leaving everything behind.
No motion has she now, no force.
She neither hears nor sees.
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal.
With rocks and stones and trees.
In the above stanza, the poet says that there is no motion left in his beloved’s body as the death has come over. She has no life force in her body due to death. She neither hears nor sees anything. She has become earth-like rotating around the Sun every day. She is now a part of the tree, rocks and stones that also move along with the Earth. She has become a part of nature itself and is immortal and unforgettable for the poet. The poet seems to pay a glowing tribute to his beloved in uplifting his beloved to the cosmic level. The poet immortalizes his beloved in making her merge with the cosmic forces.
Q1. What has Been Referred to as ‘Slumber’? Why did the Poet do so?
Ans. The word ‘Slumber’ literally means deep sleep. In the poem, ‘Slumber’ refers to the death of sensations or numbness that fills the poet after the death of his beloved. The poet has used the word to represent the shock and grief he was suffering from.
Q2. Explain: ‘Earth’s Diurnal Course’.
Ans. Earth’s diurnal course refers to the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis around the sun, which causes the day and night to come into existence. This is a universal phenomenon, which never stops.
Q3. How does the Poet Develop a Different Attitude Towards Death by the End of the Poem?
Ans. It is the eternal truth that death is inevitable. It is the ultimate end and everyone has to die one day. We are all aware of this truth but still, no one wants to die. We fear death and try to avoid as much as we can. Even when someone around us dies, we are deeply shocked and grieved.
In the poem, the poet expresses his views after the death of his beloved. He is so shocked at the death that his entire body has become numb and he is unable to move. He says that his soul has gone into a deep sleep but at the same time, he realizes that he needs to accept fate and move on with life. To get over with this sorrow, he develops a different attitude and tells the readers that we can keep our beloved alive even after death by immortalizing them with Mother Nature who will never be affected by the external forces.
Q4. In What Context Rocks, Stones and Trees Have Been Used in the Poem?
Ans. Rocks, trees and stones have been used in the context to show the diurnal course of the Earth. They are an integral part of the Earth’s daily rotation around the sun and are not affected by anything. The poet compares death in the same manner. The poet very beautifully tells the readers that after death, people merge with the cosmic force of the Universe and they remain alive in the form of nature not being affected by anything.