Snow White’s Trees

Throughout the poem “We Are Seven” an adult speaker is arguing with a child speaker about the number of people in her family. We learn that two of her siblings have passed therefore making her family five members but she still argues there are seven. Throughout the poem the child seems giddy and eager to explain her relationship with her passed siblings and shows openness towards talking about them. She goes to explain the various activities she performs at the gravesite,

“My stockings there I often knit

My ‘kerchief there I hem

And there upon the ground I sit

I sit and sing to them.”

She performs simple everyday tasks at the gravesite in order to spend time with her parted siblings. She is not afraid to go visit this gravesite in the slightest and also reveals that she also eats her dinner at the spot. She has been so exposed to this location that is just as easy to play and perform choirs there. She paints a very relaxed picture of her visits. In reality gravesites are not that happy, people do not usually stay for very long because of the hurt and sadness acquainted with that location. When I first saw the painting “The Abby in the Oakwood” that is how I thought the adult speaker of the poem would view the gravesite and why they think the child is so naïve in her descriptions.

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The picture is cut in half by two different colors creating a line in the middle of the painting that emphasizes the empty space at the top of the painting and the busy space at the bottom. On the bottom there are gnarly trees that look like the scary trees in Disney’s cartoon “Snow White” and create a frightening mood of a creepy cemetery. It even isn’t until Snow White collapses and the innocent woodland creatures come out to inspect her when the trees don’t look as scary as Snow White thought they were.

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It also looks like there is a dilapidated piece of a building that doesn’t look like it’s standing anymore and around it looks like unkempt gravestones. There is also a procession of black shadows going into the creepy looking building. Gravesites can be daunting and this painting looks like an accurate representation of how an adult would view a gravesite, as it is not a happy place. However, to an unexposed child this is not how a gravesite would look and she creates juxtaposition against her adult counterpart. She acts light and nonchalant about visiting her departed siblings but the adult thinks she is silly in her frequent visits. There are two different views of the same place and although the point of the poem is the adult and child arguing about the number of family members, there is obviously a disconnect between what the adult views and what the child views. The adult can not unlearn how to view a gravesite which has to remain a place where you only go to visit departed ones and after that there is that distance between the living and the dead and that the living shouldn’t visit the dead so often. The adult speaker never believes the child speaker even at the end of the poem,

“’Twas throwing words away; for still

The little maid would have her will,

And said, ‘Nay we are seven!”

— Alison Vining

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