The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

In “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” William Wordsworth writes in the complicated stanza forms and irregular rhythms that are typical of the ode form. The 205 lines are divided into eleven stanzas of varying lengths and rhyme schemes. In the title, Wordsworth attempts to summarize and simplify the rich philosophical content of the poem.

The poem begins with an epigraph taken from an earlier poem by Wordsworth: “The Child is father of the Man;/ And I could wish my days to be/ Bound each to each by natural piety.” In this section of “My Heart Leaps Up,” the speaker hopes that, in his maturity, he can maintain an intimate connection to the world, similar to the bond that he had in his own childhood. Since the “Child is father of the Man,” people should respect the child in them as much as they are bound to their own fathers.

The first two stanzas of the poem quickly establish the problem that Wordsworth, the first-person speaker, faces: “There was a time” when the earth was charged with magnificence in the poet’s eyes, when every common element “did seem/ Appareled in celestial light,” but that time has gone. The ode begins in elegiac fashion, with the poet mourning because “there hath passed away a glory from the earth.”

Oddly enough, this problem seems almost resolved in stanza 3 when Wordsworth announces that “a timely utterance” (which is never revealed) relieves his grief. Critics have never...

(The entire section is 577 words.)