The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
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Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford's journey of self-discovery. She begins as a young girl who learns many hard lessons about men and herself before she finally achieves some form of independence and fulfillment. The last man she loves and loses is Tea Cake, and these selected lines from "Ode, Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth are an apt reflection of that relationship.
Tea Cake loved Janie in a way she has never been loved before, and she claims her "soul crawled out of its hiding place" because of him. Despite their trials and troubles, Janie loved Tea Cake. When he is gone, tragically by her own hand, her world "is not now as it hath been of yore." As the poem says, she still sees beauty around her, but that which was most glorious to her is now gone.
All the beautiful, celestial imagery parallels her love for Tea Cake, the man who was her world, and now that glory has gone from the earth. Though she mourns his loss, she "We will grieve not, rather find/Strength in what remains behind." Despite her grief, Janie still finds that the beauty of creation reminds her of the great love she lost. Seeing even the lowliest flower "can give/Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."
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