In "My Heart Leaps Up," what is the speaker's wish? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In many respects, Wordsworth is able to craft a poem that represents some of the basic values of Romanticism.  In that regard, the speaker's wishes are aligned with the purposes of the Romantic movement. One such wish is for the individual to be closely aligned with nature. The opening image of the poem reflects this:  "My heart leaps up when I belold/ a rainbow in the sky."  The speaker wishes to be with nature.  It is for this reason that the natural event of the rainbow in the sky triggers so much within the speaker.  The alignment of one's sense of self to the natural world is a wish that opens the poem.  

Another wish that the speaker has relates to his sense of perception.  The speaker wishes to see his life in a truly infinite manner.  It is a vision that is not limited by time.  This can be seen in lines such as "So it was when my life began/ So it is now I am a man" and "the child is the father of the man."  These lines indicate how time is a barrier to true understanding.  The speaker wishes to transcend this condition.  The speaker's wish is to view consciousness in a totalizing manner.  He, presumably Wordsworth, yearns to see time as secondary to his own experience.  Subjectivity is not something that can be defined through the contours of time.  The speaker wishes to see his own being as connected by the rainbow experience as child and man.  Time is something to be overcome and the speaker wishes to escape its confining nature.  This is seen in the reverence for "the natural piety" that not only closes the poem but becomes the speaker's final wish.  In this regard, to be able to escape from time is another wish the speaker possesses.

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