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A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Summary in English by William Wordsworth

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal by William Wordsworth About the Poet

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication of Lyrical Ballads. This piece of work is considered to be Wordsworth’s magnum opus. The Prelude is a semi auto biographical poem of his early years which the poet revised and expanded a number of times. The work was posthumously titled and published, prior to which it was generally known as the poem “to Coleridge”. Wordsworth was England’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Poet Name
William Wordsworth
Born 7 April 1770, Cockermouth, United Kingdom
Died 23 April 1850, Rydal Mount & Gardens, Rydal, United Kingdom
Poems I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Education Hawkshead Grammar School, University of Cambridge, St John’s College, Cambridge
A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Summary by William Wordsworth
A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Summary by William Wordsworth

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Introduction to the Chapter

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is a poem written by William Wordsworth in 1798 and published in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads. During the autumn of 1798, Wordsworth travelled to Germany with his sister Dorothy and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. From October 1798, Wordsworth worked on the first drafts for his Lucy poems, which included Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known, She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways and A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal. Eventually, A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, was published in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads.

The poem is unique amongst Lucy poems as it does not directly mention Lucy. The decision by critics to include the poem as part of the series is based in part on Wordsworth’s placing it in close proximity to the other Lucy poems in the Lyrical Ballads. All these poems are about a young girl named Lucy whose identity and relationship with Wordsworth are unknown. However, the poems reveal that the poet loved her dearly and she died very young. As in other ‘Lucy Poems’, here too, the poet presents Lucy as having become one with nature after her death.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Summary in English

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is one of the five Lucy Poems, a cluster of elegies about the death of a young girl named Lucy (though she remains unnamed in this poem) which brings to Wordsworth the realization that bad things can happen in a beautiful world. In this poem, the poet seems to be immortalizing Lucy’s death as he describes and appreciates life beyond death.

The poem is a mere eight lines long; two “stanzas.” The first stanza reveals the poet’s innocent unawareness about the fact that one day Lucy too would age or meet her death like other human beings. The second stanza deals with her death that has made her motionless, forceless, and without the faculties of sight and hearing. However, the poet is at peace even after losing Lucy to death because he finds that she has become an inseparable part of the earth by mingling with the rocks, the stones, and the trees.

The opening lines of the poem tell us about the poet himself. “A slumber did my spirit seal” could mean that the speaker is in some sort of a lethargic state, as if he isn’t living in reality but rather in fantasy. This ‘slumber’ transports him to a state of unawareness which keeps away all his human fears like the fact that age and death spare none, not even his dear Lucy.

However, the poet soon encounters the hard fact that the young girl has passed away. He does not address the matter directly perhaps because the pain and agony that he is because of her death is far too overwhelming for him to even mention it in a direct manner.

The lines
“No motion has she now, no force;” tell us how she is lying still, how she is now an inanimate object, devoid of life. In this way the poet subtly implies that she had once been an energetic person, not one to stay put in one place for long. When he writes about her current lack of senses he also implies that the woman might have been one to live life fully, using all of her senses to enjoy each day. He emphasizes how she can no longer enjoy the world through sight or sound by stating that she can no longer see, hear or move; she doesn’t have power.

The last two lines explain how her body has become one with earth, how she is now a part of nature. She is one among the other elements of nature like rocks, stones, and trees. Her only movement is along with the rolling of earth, of which she is now an integral part.

This movement is seen positively by the poet and he does not feel sad or bitter at the girl’s death. For him, her integration with nature transforms her human form and she continues to live like the animate and inanimate objects of nature.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Theme

The theme of A Slumber Did My Spirits Seal is the idea of life, death, and life after death. The poem, like all Lucy Poems, treats the subject of her death. The poet deals with the theme of loss through death and the sorrows that follow. The death of Lucy has left the poet in great pain to the extent that he talks of her death as transforming her into “rocks and stones and trees”. The poet does not mourn her death as an ultimate end. He, who had once considered her to be above old age and death, now finds her inseparably blended with the earth and the nature. Thus, another theme is the immortality of the human soul; Williams Wordsworth immortalizes Lucy by stating that she lives in nature after her physical death. Finally, the third theme is nature. After her death Lucy has become a part of nature and lives on in it.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Tone

The poems tone is one of acceptance as the poet comes to terms with the death of his beloved Lucy.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Message

The keynote of this poem is immortality. Through the death of Lucy, Wordsworth conveys the message that death is inevitable. Nobody is beyond the reach of death. But death does not imply a complete end as the dead person gets integrated with nature and thus lives on. Although to the poet Lucy had seemed a ‘thing’ that could not be touched by the passing of time, ‘the touch of earthly years’, Lucy has breathed her last. She now lacks ‘motion’ and ‘force’, both ideas associated with positive human action. Now she ‘neither hears nor sees’; all those special marks of humanity are gone. But Lucy has been absorbed into nature. She is now one with the rocks, stones and trees and part of the greater pattern of the universe. After death she has become immortal as she is now a part of the earth and its routine rolling.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Title

The title A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is taken from the opening line of the poem. The title refers to the drugged, drowsy, nearly unconscious state of the poet’s mind that has kept him from realizing reality. He has been in a dream-like state, devoid of any common fears (“human fears”). To the speaker, “she” (his unnamed female love) seemed like she would never age:. However, the death of Lucy has awakened him to the bitter truth of life – its ultimate end in death.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Literary Devices


Alliteration is a poetic device in which the poet repeatedly uses a sound at close intervals with the purpose of making the poem lyrical.

Example: A slumber did my spirit seal-


Enjambment is a literary device in which a line does not have a comma or a full stop at the end; the line rolls on to the next line.

Example: She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

Rhyme Scheme

Rhyme is a popular literary device in which the repetition of the same or similar sounds occurs in two or more words, e.g., covers and lovers. Rhyme occurs usually at the end of a line in a poem. The rhyme scheme in this eight-lined poem is abab cdcd.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal Summary Questions and Answers

Question 1.
What does the poet mean by ‘spirit’ and in what state was it?
In the poem the word ‘spirit’ refers to the mind of the poet. He was in a slumber. That is, a deep sleep or a state of unawareness as if unconscious to the realities of life. It is as if he was drugged or under some spell.

Question 2.
What caused the slumber of the poet?
The poet was passionately in love with the girl. Her death shocked and saddened him. He felt bitter grief. His deep emotion overwhelmed his mind. Such was the intensity of his sorrow that it overpowered his consciousness.

Question 3.
What changes did the slumber bring in the poet’s feelings?
The poet was shocked and saddened by his beloved’s death. But the slumber brought peace to his mind. He realised that his beloved had become part of Nature and would always remain around him.

Question 4.
Who does not feel any human fears? Why?
The poet does not feel any fears and his soul feels at peace, as though asleep and existing in a deep calm where he has nothing to fear. His love for Lucy was so strong that he did not want her to grow old and suffer the problems of old age as human beings do. She would not now be marked by the passing of time or the ravages of nature as other mortals are. For him, she has attained the status of a supernatural being.

Question 5.
Explain the line: “The touch of earthly years”. Who would not feel the touch of earthly years?
The expression “The touch of earthly years,” refers to the ravages of old age faced by human beings – the depletion of energy, diseases, senility and death which a person has to suffer as one grows old during life on this earth. The poet’s beloved Lucy will not face the problems of old age as she is no more alive.

Question 6.
How does the poet come out of his ‘slumber’?
The poet comes out of ‘slumber’ as the realisation dawns of him that with her death Lucy is no longer a human being and as vulnerable to death as others. She has become an immortal being and he sees her as a supernatural goddess. This brings him out of his unconsciousness or ‘slumber’.

Question 7.
How does the poet react to his loved one’s death?
At first the poet is shocked by the death of his beloved and he feels bitter grief. But after some realisation, he feels a great peace. He is content that the passing of time will no longer affect her. She has become part of Nature and is free from human travails.

Question 8.
The poet does not refer to the death of Lucy. How does he reveal that she is no more?
The poet does not refer to Lucy as being dead directly. However, he makes it obvious that she is no longer alive by stating that she has become completely still, motionless, inactive and inert. Moreover, she has lost her senses of hearing and seeing.

Question 9.
How does the poet imagine “her” to be after death?
The poet imagines her to be at peace after death. She is in a deep sleep, no longer affected by worldly affairs or by the passage of time. She is now part of nature.

‘No motion has she now, no force
She neither hears nor sees,’

Question 10.
What does the poet mean by “earth’s diurnal course”? How has “she” become a part of earth’s diurnal course?
The phrase “earth’s diurnal course” refers to the daily rotation of the earth on its axis that causes day and night. According to the poet Lucy has become an inseparable part of the earth after her death. As she has mingled with the earth, she naturally participates in its daily course just like the stones, the rocks, and the trees.