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In the opening stanza, the narrator is lamenting the loss of the wonder he once felt in Nature—“It is not now as it hath been of yore”…”The things which I have seen I now can see no more.” But as he contemplates the natural progress of earthly maturity and gradually recognizes the “perpetual benediction” that age brings, he returns to the wonder of nature: “I love the Brooks which down their channels fret/ Even more than when I tripped lightly as they.” The poem reconciles the limitations of human existence with the rhythmic changing of Nature herself, and acknowledges that Nature “hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality.” “The child” of the early stanzas becomes “the father” of the man in maturity in the last stanza. Like all good Romantic poetry, this ode celebrates the return to innocence that comes with contemplation, by regaining the insights and connections with Nature that man loses as he grasps the “childish things” that the Earth puts in his lap to distract him, and bringing “Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.” The poem moves from a childish, immature regret for lost innocence to a profound understanding and mature renewal of joy in Nature.
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