Wordsworths Poetry: Ode: Intimations of Immortality …

Posted: June 6, 2021 at 7:33 pm


In the first stanza, the speaker says wistfully that therewas a time when all of nature seemed dreamlike to him, apparelledin celestial light, and that that time is past; the things I haveseen I can see no more. In the second stanza, he says that he stillsees the rainbow, and that the rose is still lovely; the moon looksaround the sky with delight, and starlight and sunshine are eachbeautiful. Nonetheless the speaker feels that a glory has passedaway from the earth.

In the third stanza, the speaker says that, while listeningto the birds sing in springtime and watching the young lambs leapand play, he was stricken with a thought of grief; but the soundof nearby waterfalls, the echoes of the mountains, and the gustingof the winds restored him to strength. He declares that his griefwill no longer wrong the joy of the season, and that all the earthis happy. He exhorts a shepherd boy to shout and play around him.In the fourth stanza, he addresses natures creatures, and saysthat his heart participates in their joyful festival. He says thatit would be wrong to feel sad on such a beautiful May morning, whilechildren play and laugh among the flowers. Nevertheless, a treeand a field that he looks upon make him think of something thatis gone, and a pansy at his feet does the same. He asks what hashappened to the visionary gleam: Where is it now, the glory andthe dream?

In the fifth stanza, he proclaims that human life is merelya sleep and a forgettingthat human beings dwell in a purer, moreglorious realm before they enter the earth. Heaven, he says, liesabout us in our infancy! As children, we still retain some memoryof that place, which causes our experience of the earth to be suffusedwith its magicbut as the baby passes through boyhood and youngadulthood and into manhood, he sees that magic die. In the sixthstanza, the speaker says that the pleasures unique to earth conspireto help the man forget the glories whence he came.

In the seventh stanza, the speaker beholds a six-year-oldboy and imagines his life, and the love his mother and father feelfor him. He sees the boy playing with some imitated fragment ofadult life, some little plan or chart, imitating a wedding ora festival or a mourning or a funeral. The speaker imagines thatall human life is a similar imitation. In the eighth stanza, thespeaker addresses the child as though he were a mighty prophet ofa lost truth, and rhetorically asks him why, when he has accessto the glories of his origins, and to the pure experience of nature,he still hurries toward an adult life of custom and earthly freight.

In the ninth stanza, the speaker experiences a surge ofjoy at the thought that his memories of childhood will always granthim a kind of access to that lost world of instinct, innocence ,and exploration. In the tenth stanza, bolstered by this joy, heurges the birds to sing, and urges all creatures to participatein the gladness of the May. He says that though he has lost somepart of the glory of nature and of experience, he will take solacein primal sympathy, in memory, and in the fact that the yearsbring a mature consciousnessa philosophic mind. In the finalstanza, the speaker says that this mindwhich stems from a consciousnessof mortality, as opposed to the childs feeling of immortalityenableshim to love nature and natural beauty all the more, for each ofnatures objects can stir him to thought, and even the simplestflower blowing in the wind can raise in him thoughts that do oftenlie too deep for tears.

Wordsworths Immortality Ode, as it is often called, iswritten in eleven variable ode stanzas with variable rhyme schemes,in iambic lines with anything from two to five stressed syllables.The rhymes occasionally alternate lines, occasionally fall in couplets,and occasionally occur within a single line (as in But yet I know, whereerI go in the second stanza).

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