Can somebody please post the theme of the poem "Ode to Duty" by William Wordsworth?Click to read the whole poem-...

Can somebody please post the theme of the poem "Ode to Duty" by William Wordsworth?

Click to read the whole poem-

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main theme of this poem reflects the importance of always staying on the path of responsible behavior.  Wordsworth instructs us in this poem about the value of duty or work.  He wants to make the reader understand that even though one may think that they do not want to follow the rules of life, by going to school, or work or behaving in a responsible fashion, in fact that is exactly what we need to do in order to feel free.

It is through the exercise of our duty, whatever that is, that we feel the most free.  When an individual tries to run away from responsibility, they are haunted and feel like a thief, you can never feel free in those circumstances. Below, he describes how your life will be when you satisfy duty and not run from it.

"Serene will be our days and bright, And happy will our nature be, When love is an unerring light, And joy its own security. And they a blissful course may hold Even now, who, not unwisely bold, Live in the spirit of this creed; Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need." (Wordsworth) 

In the following passage, the poet pleads for strength to live in the right way, to follow his duty and to be happy.

"To humbler functions, awful Power! I call thee: I myself command Unto thy guidance from this hour; Oh! let my weakness have an end! Give unto me, made lowly wise, The spirit of self-sacrifice; The confidence of reason give; And, in the light of truth, thy Bondman let me live!" (Wordsworth) 


sura2088 | Student

Wordsworth’s monumental poetic legacy rests on a large number of important poems, varying in length and weight from the short, simple lyrics of the 1790s to the vast expanses of The Prelude, thirteen books long in its 1808 edition. But the themes that run through Wordsworth’s poetry, and the language and imagery he uses to embody those themes, remain remarkably consistent throughout the Wordsworth canon, adhering largely to the tenets Wordsworth set out for himself in the 1802 preface to Lyrical Ballads. Here, Wordsworth argues that poetry should be written in the natural language of common speech, rather than in the lofty and elaborate dictions that were then considered “poetic.” He argues that poetry should offer access to the emotions contained in memory. And he argues that the first principle of poetry should be pleasure, that the chief duty of poetry is to provide pleasure through a rhythmic and beautiful expression of feeling—for all human sympathy, he claims, is based on a subtle pleasure principle that is “the naked and native dignity of man.”

Recovering “the naked and native dignity of man” makes up a significant part of Wordsworth’s poetic project, and he follows his own advice from the 1802 preface. Wordsworth’s style remains plain-spoken and easy to understand even today, though the rhythms and idioms of common English have changed from those of the early nineteenth century. Many of Wordsworth’s poems (including masterpieces such as “Tintern Abbey” and the “Intimations of Immortality” ode) deal with the subjects of childhood and the memory of childhood in the mind of the adult in particular, childhood’s lost connection with nature, which can be preserved only in memory. Wordsworth’s images and metaphors mix natural scenery, religious symbolism (as in the sonnet “It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,” in which the evening is described as being “quiet as a nun”), and the relics of the poet’s rustic childhood—cottages, hedgerows, orchards, and other places where humanity intersects gently and easily with nature.

Wordsworth’s poems initiated the Romantic era by emphasizing feeling, instinct, and pleasure above formality and mannerism. More than any poet before him, Wordsworth gave expression to inchoate human emotion; his lyric “Strange fits of passion have I known,” in which the speaker describes an inexplicable fantasy he once had that his lover was dead, could not have been written by any previous poet. Curiously for a poet whose work points so directly toward the future, many of Wordsworth’s important works are preoccupied with the lost glory of the past—not only of the lost dreams of childhood but also of the historical past, as in the powerful sonnet “London, 1802,” in which the speaker exhorts the spirit of the centuries-dead poet John Milton to teach the modern world a better way to live