Critical Analysis of A Slumber did my Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth

Critical Analysis of A Slumber did my Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth


Critical Analysis of A Slumber did my Spirit Seal

It is easy to see why the woman whose death is referred to in “A Slumber did my Spirit Seal”, though ostensibly called Lucy, has been equated with Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy. The state in which the narrator keeps the woman is a state between life and death. She is said to be eternal, first in her presence in the narrator’s real life and then in her absence. However, her absence is simply an absence in human or bodily form. It is not that she ceases to exist altogether. She becomes a past of nature – the nature that surrounds the narrator every single day, the nature that is made up of rocks and trees. Hence, the woman is not alive in the conventional sense, but she cannot be considered dead either. After all, nature is not dead, is it? From a basic knowledge of Wordsworth’s life and times, we know that he was separated from his sister for nine years after the untimely death of their mother. More importantly though, Dorothy was struck by a fatal disease that turned her into an invalid. Hence her presence was like an in-between state in the context of Wordsworth’s life. She was alive, but not herself. Wordsworth didn’t want to accept the fact that she could die any day. In the end though, he had to rationalize with himself that the event would occur at some point of time, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Yet he knew that Dorothy would always remain in his heart and in his mind. Traces of her would be left all over the Lake District as well, where the two of them had spent many long and happy days together.

Poetic Devices

Rhyme scheme:

Each of the two stanzas in “A Slumber did my Spirit Seal” follows the same simple rhyme scheme – ABAB. However, the simplicity of this rhyme scheme does not match either with the tone or with the subject matter of the poem. The rhyme scheme is song-song, but the tone and subject matter are both sombre.

Rhetorical devices:

1st stanza:

Alliteration: This rhetorical device is identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds or of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in the stressed syllables of a phrase. In this stanza, the poet uses the device of alliteration in the first line itself when the “s” sound is repeated thrice in “Aslumber did my spirit seal”.


Paradox: A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true. In this stanza, the poet creates a paradox by referring to Lucy both as “she” (that is, as a human being) and as a “thing”.

Also you can follow the links below for detailed study of the poem-

Summary of A Slumber did my Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth

Central Idea and Theme of A Slumber did my Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth

About A Slumber did my Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth- Annotations


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