Wordsworth’s Vision of Childhood in His Poems “We Are Seven” and “Alice Fell or Poverty” Research Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 18th, 2019


William Wordsworth’s vision of childhood is reflected in his poems “We Are Seven” and “Alice Fell or Poverty”, where he describes his childhood experiences. From the two poems, it is evident that these childhood experiences continue to influence him throughout his adult life (Moorman 81).

For instance, both poems show the evidence of some ‘visionary powers’ that Wordsworth encountered in his infancy and childhood. Nevertheless, these experiences seem to differ as portrayed in each of the two poems.

The impact of childhood experiences in his adult life indicates his understanding of psychological relationship between adult state of mind and childhood perceptions of ‘self’ and that this relationship changes as he grow up (Moorman 22).

Criticism has emerged over Wordsworth’s poetical childhood as displayed in the two poems. However, there have been limited efforts in synthesizing the poet’s differing portrayals of childhood into one basic concept (Mason 78).

The proposed research will attempt to develop a comprehensive examination of the poet’s vision of childhood and its impacts in adult life. It seeks to determine whether the transcendental childhood mind presents an evidence of innate powers that function to unite the natural world and its uncertainties throughout the poet’s life (Moorman 114).


Born on 7 April 1770, William Wordsworth played an important role in the rise of the ‘Romantic Age’ in British literature and poetry (Gill 121).

Specifically, the joint publication he released in 1798 known as “Lyrical Ballads” are considered the most important publications in the rise of the Romantic literature in the UK and Europe. Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland in what is now the Lake District of Northwest England.

The poet obtained poetic lessons from both his father and younger sister, both of whom loved poetry. His first publication was a sonnet published in the ‘European magazine’ when he was attending St John’s College, Cambridge. In 1791, Wordsworth left the college with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Davies 53).

He travelled wide in Europe, visiting Italy, the Alps, Switzerland and France.

Romanticism sought to revolt from the European traditions that were largely based on aristocratic school of thought (Smith 69). In literature, romantic authors and poets emphasized on nature, children, and women and sought to break away from the aristocratic perception of nature.

They also emphasized on ‘pure nature’ and human psychology. However, there is evidence that some poets and authors, especially Wordsworth and Allan Poe, attempted to introduce an emphasis on supernatural powers and its impact on human psychology (Ferber 93).

The childhood perception of nature portrayed by Wordsworth is an indication of this poetic style during the era.


The researcher is going to discuss Wordsworth’s vision of childhood on “We Are Seven” and “Alice Fell or Poverty” in terms of fragility, poverty and philosophy of life.

Study Questions

  1. How do the children portrayed by Wordsworth perceive nature?
  2. How does Wordsworth present the children in his poems?
  3. Does the poet’s portrayal of the poetic children present the actual image in nature? If yes, how much?
  4. What is the significance of the picture of childhood in the poet’s life?
  5. Why does the poet seem to place an emphasis on childhood experience in his poems?

Significance of the Study

The study aims at reviewing the old presentation of childhood in Wordsworth’s poems and compare with the current picture of childhood. In addition, the study seeks to introduce the concept of poetic childhood and its impact on later life to the modern poets.

Works Cited

Davies, Hunter. William Wordsworth: A Biography. London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2009. Print.

Ferber, Michael. Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction. London: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Gill, Stephen. William Wordsworth: A Life. London: Oxford University Press. Print.

Mason, Emma. The Cambridge Introduction to William Wordsworth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth, A Biography: The Early Years, 1770-1803. London: Oxford University Press, 1989. Print.

Moorman, Mary. William Wordsworth: A Biography: The Later Years, 1803-1850. London: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print

Smith, Logan. Four words: romantic, originality, creative, genius. London: Clarendon Pres, 2004. Print

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