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Meaning of "The Child is Father of the Man?"In "My Heart Leaps Up,"...

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julieashley1 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 6, 2008 at 9:45 AM via web

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Meaning of "The Child is Father of the Man?"

In "My Heart Leaps Up," what does Wordsworth mean when he says, "The Child is Father of the man?"

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

Posted September 6, 2008 at 10:26 AM (Answer #2)

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In his famous ode to nature, William Wordsworth says that the child in every person teaches him to appreciate nature beginning with the simple beauty of rainbows and by implication, other natural wonders. What we think as children will help determine how we think as adults. The lines that follow "the child is the father of the man", suggest, with almost religious zeal, that he hopes to always love nature as he did as a child.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted September 6, 2008 at 7:37 PM (Answer #3)

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In addition to the answer above, this line could also be religious in nature, due to "Child" and "Father" being capitalized.  We can think of this line as the child is Jesus, the father is God, and man is everyone on Earth, in one interpretation.  Also, we can look at it like this: the only way to salvation is through Jesus, according to Christian beliefs, because Jesus was sent to bear all of our sins through his suffering and death.  Jesus, the child of God, was the father of men because he came onto this Earth, preached and shared his beliefs about salvation and about God, and died so that his "children" could be saved, much as a father would do if one of his children was in danger of dying or being killed.

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hmashwinkumar | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2009 at 9:14 AM (Answer #4)

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Meaning of "The Child is Father of the Man?"

In "My Heart Leaps Up," what does Wordsworth mean when he says, "The Child is Father of the man?"

I am little philosophically oriented person. When I read this poem in this light I felt there is a reference to the ETERNAL BLISS. And one would experience this only by aligining and surrendering to NATURE. This line, as well as the whole poem, might be highlighting the ENTERNITY.

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hmashwinkumar | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2009 at 9:15 AM (Answer #5)

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Meaning of "The Child is Father of the Man?"

In "My Heart Leaps Up," what does Wordsworth mean when he says, "The Child is Father of the man?"

I am little philosophically oriented person. When I read this poem in this light I felt there is a reference to the ETERNAL BLISS. And one would experience this only by aligining and surrendering to NATURE. This line, as well as the whole poem, might be highlighting the ETERNITY.

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jdeegerman | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:47 AM (Answer #6)

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I grew up with lots of childhood issues, which I buried until I was in my late 40's.  These issues dominated much of my adult behavior, especially with my children.  With this background I see Wordsworth's quote as meaning that things we experienced as children, which are still buried within us, play the role of a controlling father to us as adult men.  Classic example: "I hate the way my father treated me and I don't want to treat my children that way, but I can't seem to help it."

JDG

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 25, 2009 at 10:19 AM (Answer #7)

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Is so interesting to see how many interpretations we all have about his phrase, which is what makes his poetry so magical and intense as an experience. I feel that, as some have posted, Wordsworth is saying that our heart speaks for our brains, in not such exacting words. If we are children at heart, our inner child will dictate all the great and the wonderful things that we find in life. If we aren't born with an inner child, our life will lack that, and we might even lose control of it.

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ladynads | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 27, 2010 at 9:40 PM (Answer #10)

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Whren in a College English Lit class we explored the meaning behind Wordsworth's words "The Child Is The Father Of The Man." We determinedf that he meant that the Child is born all knowing and it is through experiencing life that we lose that knowlege! That our life experiences make us lose those knowings those memories we are born with because The Child Is The Father Of The Man!

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drganesan | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:18 PM (Answer #11)

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I was looking for an answer.And I found it not from a single answer.Instead I was able to unravel the mystery by reading several of the posts and come to a couple of conclusions which I want to share. The word father also means a person who is responsible to teach and guide his child to become a Man. A person actually becomes a complete man only after he begets and brings up a child. Without a child to bring up he remains incomplete, not just biologically but also culturally and philosophically. So figuratively it can be said that the child has taught (fathered) his / her father to become a MAN. Therefore the Child is the Father of the MAN. A simpler interpretation is that an infertile person (who cannot impregnate a woman) cannot be called a Man (related to the word Manly). He can be called a Male but not a MAN. He is accepted to be a MAN only when he successfully makes his female give birth to a child. So it can also be said (again figuratively) that the Child has established (fathered) him as a Man from being just a Male.

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ajprincess | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:29 AM (Answer #13)

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From a poem by William Wordsworth "The child is father of the man"

These means that by the age of 7 or so a child has developed physical characteristics (short or tall, fit or frail), personality traits (aggressive, loving), attitudes (hard working, slovenly) that will determine what he will be like as an adult.

In that sense is the child father to himself as an adult



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kubi33 | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted February 26, 2012 at 6:09 AM (Answer #14)

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It means that the child's father is a man. or it just relates to the bible like JEsus is the son of god or something:)

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rakikid | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 2, 2012 at 4:04 PM (Answer #15)

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Always nonspecialists find the new things

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neilam | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 9, 2012 at 9:55 AM (Answer #16)

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Dear readers 

I am sorry, but do not agree the above description and meaning.

There is a profound meaning of the seventh line in the poem 'The Rainbow' by William wordsworth. Actually in this line 'child is the father of man' the poet wants to say that man is the product of his habits and behaviour developed in the childhood. So, parents and teachers should try to give him good values because only a good man can make a better society. (And his context also reveals that if we develop love for nature in a child he continues loving his surrounding and nature in later stages of his age.)

 

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