Can somebody please explain these lines from the poem "Ode to Duty"?Through no disturbance of my soul,Or strong compunction in me wrought,I supplicate for thy control,But in the quietness of...

Can somebody please explain these lines from the poem "Ode to Duty"?

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control,
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance-desires:

My hopes no more must change their name;
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Asked on by itssnigdha

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In this poem, the speaker is talking about why it is both important and good to do your duty.  The lines you cite are the fifth stanza.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker says that he has tried in the past to escape duty.  He was young and foolish and was too easily led astray by his own desires.

So now in the fifth stanza he is talking about why following duty is better.  He is saying that it's more restful to have a consistent predictable life than to get pushed around by your desires.  The stanza means something like

Although I'm not sad

And I'm not being forced

I ask you to control me

But when I think about it

Having too much freedom is bad

Because I have to do whatever "chance desire" makes me do

I want a more calm and steady life

It would be more relaxing to have consistency


I hope that helps a bit.

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

The message in the poem 'Ode to Duty'by William Wordsworth is re-iterated more strongly in the last stanza - and this stanza you may find clearer to understand.

'To humbler functions,awful Power, I call thee' means that William Worsworth understands the vast role that Duty has in governing decent behaviour and citizenship throughout the world, but he is calling her to simpler tasks - namely helping him! He makes a covenant or promise to put himself in her hands from this day forward (even though he has already expressed earlier on that he understands the human frailties and temptations which are going to make this difficult.) Now he is older, wiser and probably less energetic he is going to find the task of staying in her harness easier.

He asks for three things: self-sacrificing spirit,the light of truth and the confidence of reason.

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