"The Child Is Father Of The Man"

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 170

Context: This phrase, which Wordsworth later used as an epigraph for his "Ode on the Intimations of Immortality," is central to his thinking about childhood. It is the child who, in his innocence and freshness, is more open to the beauty of nature, more susceptible to its influence. So it was in his own youth, and, happily, so it has continued to be as he has grown older. What the child is, the man will become–in this case, a lover of nature, able to be moved by its beauty. In the last line of the short poem, Wordsworth uses the word "piety" in its sense of "reverence." The poem follows:

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My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

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