A slumber did my spirit seal

Length: 4 Pages 1041 Words

The meaning of a text is not in the text itself but is created through interaction with the reader. Without someone to read it, a text is meaningless. Dependent on who reads it, different meanings can surface from the same text. The reader is strongly influenced by his former cultural and literary experiences which shape the ongoing reading process. There exists no universally true meaning William Wordsworth`s “A slumber did my spirit seal” consists of two stanzas rhyming abab. As soon as the reader recognizes that he is dealing with a poem certain expectations arise. He anticipates to be confronted with a special poetical language corresponding to the conventions of poetry. The reader is alert; he is now looking eagerly for those poetical devices. Fortunately his expectations are already confirmed in the first line of the poem. “Slumber” (1) is not used in everyday language and in the dictionary it is acknowledged as an old fashioned literary term. The syntax deviates from the standard as well; the poet uses “did seal” instead of “sealed” which would be the grammatical correct past tense used nowadays. The reader feels at ease because his expectations have been confirmed. But the reading experience has Continue...


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The poem goes on describing death; a situation every human being inescapably has to face one day. The speaker has no human fears (2) and his beloved one does not "feel the touch of earthly years (4). The speaker of the poem claims to have "no human fears (2). The reader can impossibly made sense of he first stanza. The recognizing of the truth takes place at the beginning of the second stanza, where all the happy illusions the reader built up while reading the first four lines are destroyed. The reading flow is interrupted at the end of line three. They seem to belong to a different world where they are not affected by time and the laws of nature. At the end the terrible finality of death is softened. The reader feels deeply affected by the death of Lucy. The reader stumbles over this word; at first sight it does not fit into the sequence. The reader is given no time to mourn the death of Lucy. A point has now been reached where he has to make use of his literary competence in order to infuse sense into the poem. In line seven the word "diurnal (7) disrupts the reading process once more.