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Can somebody please explain this line from the poem "Ode to Duty"- "To humbler...

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archishrma | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted February 7, 2009 at 12:08 AM via web

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Can somebody please explain this line from the poem "Ode to Duty"- "To humbler functions, awful Power!" What does humbler functions refer to?

Refer to the last stanza of the poem "Ode to Duty" by William Wordsworth.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 7, 2009 at 2:59 AM (Answer #1)

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The line is an apostrophe or direct address to duty ( "awful Power!) If you look at the stanza in its entirety, you will see that Wordsworth is asking for a spirit of self-sacrifice and humility. In his early days, Wordsworth has simply been content to follow his own intuition in order to enjoy the world around him. However, this poem was written towards the end of his life after his sister had suffered from a long illness, his brother had died, and Wordsworth had grown older. As an older adult, he seems to be looking back at the grandiose things he sought as a young adult, and sees that they did not have a much meaning as "the humbler functions" of self-sacrifice, humility and "the light of truth". 

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