Study Guide

We Are Seven Stanzas 2-4

By William Wordsworth

Stanzas 2-4

Lines 5-16

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
—Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said,
And wondering looked at me.

  • "We are Seven" started out with an abstract child; in these lines, we are introduced to a real live one. The "little cottage Girl," who is eight years old, has curly hair. She sounds like your run-of-the-mill late eighteenth-century British girl—just chilling outside, possibly waiting for an adventure. 
  • The speaker continues describing her: she has a "rustic, woodland air," she is "wildly clad," her eyes are "very fair," and she is most definitely beautiful. This girl has some wildness in her. She's the type of kid you're probably more likely to find climbing trees than practicing the piano. 
  • And of course she's beautiful, too. She's "very fair" (i.e., she has pale skin), which is something valued very highly back in the day. Her pale skin also makes the little girl seem innocent (fairness and light are often associated with innocence), possibly even unknowing. 
  • In the next stanza, the speaker shifts into dialogue. (Dialogue is actually quite common in ballads). He addresses the little girl, whom he calls a "little Maid." He's not implying that she's a housekeeper here; back in Wordsworth's time, "maid" was a common term for a girl or unmarried young woman. It implies virginity and (again) innocence. 
  • The speaker asks the girl how many sisters and brothers she has—a pretty standard question to ask a little kid, we think. 
  • The little girl answers "Seven in all." Okay, so she's got a big family, but nothing too crazy is happening yet.
  • Though we have a sense that maybe she's not telling us everything; the little girl looks at the speaker "wondering." What is she wondering about? What isn't she telling us? 
  • And before we move on, let's just take a sec and think about form and meter (again). As you may have noticed, the poem has settled comfortably into its ballad-ness. The stanzas all have ABAB rhymes (such as "Girl" and "curl," "said" and "head") and the lines are perfectly or close-to-perfectly regular in terms of meter. You can relax now, Shmoopers, "We Are Seven" has reached peak ballad-osity.

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