“A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”: Wordsworth’s Deathly Tale

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In the latter part of the romantic period, Wordsworth, as a part of his lyrical ballads, wrote “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal.” Although not initially intended, the poem eventually became part of a series labeled as the “Lucy Poems.” The five poems, in some way or another, address loss, separation, and their connection to nature. Recent analyses have yielded interesting results in interpreting the poem. Because of the ambiguity present within the lines, varying interpretations have emerged. As it turns out, “A slumber did my spirit seal” is not just a poem, as most people would have it, of a male speaker lamenting the loss of his love Lucy. Instead what has emerged is a creative narrative about the intertwined lives of three characters, …show more content…
That effectively, she is now a part of nature.
That is just her story. The speaker tries to convince himself that she is happy wherever she has gone in the afterlife. That very well may be, but his wish may very well be just a coping mechanism to feel better about the situation. Unfortunately, the sudden death of his love has a very profound effect upon his psyche, and in Davies’ interpretation, the speaker has his own trouble tripping “on the borders of life and death” (160).

Hugh Sykes Davies in his essay “Another New Poem by Wordsworth” (1965), suggested that there was a second way of interpreting “A Slumber.” He says that the absence of the name “Lucy” in the poem produces an “Awkwardness” (135) that is overlooked in the traditional interpretation. However, he takes an active approach saying that the poem does not belong to the group of “Lucy” poems. His argument is that the pronoun “she” in the third line, instead of referring to “Lucy”, is describing the only noun “fitted by meaning and number” (136), the word ‘spirit’ in the first line. His continuing research is his attempt to find out the gender of the word ‘spirit’. He finds that Wordsworth is rather irregular when it comes to the gender of ‘spirit’. Davies is unable to offer any solid conclusions, but does say that Wordsworth does prefer the feminine on his revisions. It was typical in the 19th