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We Are Seven

From the Grand Forks Daily Herald, July 10, 1914. By William Wordsworth.

A simple child,
    That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
    What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage girl;
    She was 8 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.

“And where are they? I pray you tell.”
    She answered, “Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea;

“Two of us in the churchyard lie,
    My sister and my brother;
And, in the churchyard cottage, I
    Dwell near them with my mother.”

“You say that two at Conway dwell,
    And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
    Sweet maid, how may this be?”

Then did the little maid reply,
    “Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the churchyard lie
    Beneath the churchyard tree.”

“You run about, my little maid;
    Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the churchyard laid
    Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”
    The little maid replied;
“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door
    And they are side by side.

“My stockings there I often knit,
    My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit
    And sing a song to them.

“And often after sunset, sir,
    When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
    And eat my supper there.

“The first that died was Sister Jane;
    In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her pain,
    And then she went away.

“So in the churchyard she was laid;
    And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
    My brother John and I.

“And when the ground was white with snow,
    And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
    And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you, then,” said I,
    “If they two are in Heaven?”
Quick was the little maid’s reply:
    “O Master! We are seven.”

“But they are dead; those two are dead!
    Their spirits are in Heaven?”
’Twas throwing words away; for still
The little maid would have her will,
    And said, “Nay, we are seven.”

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