Themes and Meanings
Between the third and the ninth stanza, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” seems extremely bleak. Wordsworth suggests that human growth leads downward from the splendor of youth to the emptiness and grief of “palsied Age.” He accepts Plato’s notion that souls exist before as well as after they are joined with bodies. Unlike Plato, however, Wordsworth believes that little children and infants inhabit a world which is full of “visionary gleam” because they have only recently left the “imperial palace” in the spiritual realm and, “trailing clouds of glory,” have entered the fallen world of matter. In childhood, according to Wordsworth, one’s own immortality is intuited and so young people are perpetually joyful; they have a “heart of May” not because their bodies are strong and capable but because of their spiritual health. The bleakness comes when the “yearsbring the inevitable yoke” of customary actions and “endless imitation.” When the “celestial light,/ The glory and the freshness” of youth disappear, what is left?
The final three stanzas answer this question in a hopeful fashion. Memory serves as an important key for a kind of hard-earned happiness, “all that is at enmity with joy” cannot “utterly abolish or destroy” as long as one can recall the “delight and liberty” of childhood when God’s light was all around. As the title explicitly states, in maturity, one garners “intimations of immortality...
(The entire section is 541 words.)