Ode: Intimations of Immortality is a poem written by William Wordsworth, who is a well known poet popular for his love of nature.
William Wordsworth is a well known Poet belonging to a group of Romantic Poets known as Lake Poets living in Lake District.
This Poem has been composed in two parts.
The first part comprises of first four stanzas that end with a question to the reader. It was composed in 1802.
On the other hand, the second part answers the question at the end of first four stanzas and was written in 1804.
William Words worth has discussed the concept of Pre-existence of soul in this poem with its themes of transition of soul from one state to another.
The Novel in set in the beginning of month of May when he is enchanted by the blooming of flowers due to the coming of Spring.
Here, we have a brief summary of Ode: Intimations of Immortality.
Ode starts with an Epigraph that was taken from another of Wordsworth poem “My Heart Leaps up”.
Themes of Ode: Intimations of Immortality
The Poet has added many rhetorical questions throughout the poem and the overall discusses the transition of the state of soul with the symbols of Aging, Changing of seasons, and days and nights.
The theme of Childhood also very important because Ode: Intimations of Immortality has been taken from “Recollections of Early Childhood”.
This is a Pindaric Ode as all the stanzas follows an irregular pattern of Rhyme, Rhythm and Meter.
Another major theme in this poem is Childhood vs Adulthood.
How childhood enables you to have a divine perception of the world due to your memories of the pre-existence of soul on heavens.
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(Wordsworth, “My Heart Leaps Up”)
These are the lines taken from another poem of William Wordsworth i.e. “My Heart Leaps Up”.
The Poem ended with these lines and Wordsworth started his Ode with these lines.
It talks about the process of Aging that it is an ongoing process that never stops and the things you have in your childhood forms the basis of your adulthood.
Ode: Intimations of Immortality Summary and Analysis
1st Stanza :
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
In these lines, the poet is talking about his recollection of early childhood memories.
In his childhood, everything seemed very beautiful and captivating as mentioned by the poet that even the common sights appareled him.
But then he expresses his grief that all these things are not there or he is unable to observe these things in his surroundings because he has grown up.
This is because in his childhood he has the memories of his pre-existence but as he grow up, his memories fades and he is unable to see divinity in his surroundings.
The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look rounda her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
In these lines, poet talks about the cycle of life that revolves undisturbed.
Poet says that everything comes and goes and this the cycle of life which could never be disturbed.
In the starting lines, he says that moon and the starry sky is a very beautiful sight but unfortunately it has ended.
Then it talks about the day that sunshine coming with the day is a glorious birth which came as an alternative to the beautiful moon.
At the end, it again gets grieved that although sunshine has come as a wonderful birth but the glory that was present before is no more here.
Poet could also be remembering his early childhood memories that he discussed in his previous stanza that he has lost those wonderful memories of pre-existence.
This makes him sorrowful for not being able to recollect his memories.
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday;—
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy.
The word “Now” at the start of first line tells us that poet is now going to talk about his present experience instead of reviving his thoughts of childhood.
A strong depiction of nature could be seen in these lines as it could be seen in the very first line.
The bird is singing joyous songs and young lambs are bounding. In the latter lines, Cataract is also personified blowing the trumpets.
Then suddenly a thought of grief came into the poet’s mind which was at the same time was relieved that poet tells in the last line is a glance of child playing playing around him.
So, nature could be seen as a healing power in these lines as it refreshes his childhood memories and gives him relief.
Throughout this stanza, nature is celebrating and Wordsworth is really enjoying this phenomenon of nature.
Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:—
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
—But there’s a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Poet starts these lines by addressing the blessed creature, who is no other than the child he was discussing in the previous lines.
In the 3rd line, he is associating the heavens with the child that is the main theme of this poem.
Everything in these lines could be seen celebrating the beginning of the spring and May morning seems very enchanting and beautiful to the every creature on Earth.
So, poet encourages himself that it is not appropriate to be sad on these joyous mornings, when there are festivities everywhere.
But out of no where a tree and a field gets his attention that reminds him of some old memories that are gone and he again starts thing of the lost glories.
A flower is also there at his feet that also provokes his sadness and he end it with a question that where have these glories gone?
Here ends the first part of the poem in which poet was recalling his lost childhood memories of glory and dreams.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
With the fifth stanza, begins the second part of the poem in which he takes us to the journey of the growth of a child.
He grows with the passage of time and gets matured for the world but in real, he is getting common and forgetting the magical world he had in his dreams.
The very first line of the stanza, clearly defines the main theme of this poem that our birth is nothing more than a period of forgetfulness.
Poet talks about the origination of soul and its departure.
The real place of the poem or the setting as expressed in the poem is somewhere in the heavens but it comes to the world and gets involved in the worldly affairs.
After this world, the soul again departs for the same world from which it came and that world is in the divine universe of God.
These lines put a strong emphasis on the biblical concept of pre-existence of the soul that is also one of the major theme of this poem.
Another major theme that could be seen here is the concept of Alienation of soul that do not have its exact location in this world.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.
This stanza again takes us to the healing power of the Earth and discussed the idea of fertility.
Like the concept of fertilizer that is made from the dead pants or dead matter but gives life to the plant by going through fermentation.
Same like this, a mother referred as “homely Nurse” fosters his infants to become a man but in this fostering, this man forgets about the divine stature it had.
He forgets about his pre-existence and the imperial palace from where he has come.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ’mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his ‘humorous stage’
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
This stanza again introduces a young boy who who learns from his parents about the affairs of this world.
The development of this child from childhood to boyhood and then to man is being discussed here.
In order to learn, he imitates all the worldly matter like weddings and funerals just like his parents.
For him life just becomes a humorous stage because imitation is the phenomenon of a stage as Shakespeare regards the world as a stage and all the people as its characters.
This endless imitation of the world makes him forget about the divinity that he had before and he just becomes a common lay man.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul’s immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o’er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
In these lines, child is so much glorified and regarded as the “best philosopher” of all time because he has just come from the divinity and can remember the heavens.
This philosopher is like an “Eye among the Blind” just because he could see what a normal man could not.
The depiction is actually of nature that defines the man and man sees his own reflection in the nature.
And this “Mighty Prophet” knows all the divine affairs and sees these affairs in the nature.
But he also gets lot in the struggle of this world and let go the memories of his that made him the mighty prophet.
Immortality which is the main topic here, could be seen as a controlling figure and acts as a master in your life.
Although you gets lost in the worldly affairs but the immortality of soul again takes you to the divine status in the heavens.
O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
Here, from ninth stanza which is the longest stanza of the poem, starts the third portion of the poem.
Where William Wordsworth discusses the doorway to the lost world through his childhood memories.
In these lines, a change of tone could also be seen towards hope and optimism.
The poet tells about the cycle of life that how the soul of a child is blessed but these blessings disappears when he becomes a man and again gets those when gets old.
Poet is now optimistic that although his childhood is gone but he is getting old now and old age will again bring the path to heavenly worlds.
This gives us the idea that nature is immortal and it will reach to you by any mean.
The significance of the title could also be seen as the recollections are acting as a doorway to the lost world.
Young age is just a fraction of time where man suffers from forgetfulness but it could not destroy the joy of immortality.
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
This stanza is rather a recollection of already discussed things like “singing birds”, “young lambs” and “tabor’s sound”.
The Joy of the poet is clearly visible in his rhyming verses and he is happy because he has known the secret of happiness now.
Poet is recognizing the true beauty of mortality of this world also that these ups and downs are the part of our life and being a child then young and then old gives this world a beauty.
He also mentions that these years has bring him a philosophical mind to understand the true beauty of nature.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
In these lines, poet is seeing the mighty landscapes and accepting the habitual way of the world.
He accepts the phenomenon of this world and starts loving it.
He says that these processes of recognizing, forgetting and recollecting is the real beauty and loves it.
As he clearly mention that he loves the mortal human heart and wants it to be in the same way as it is.
Ode Intimations of Immortality PPT
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