The Theme of Nature in Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth
Nature is often used in literature to illustrate themes of immortality, birth, and growth. Certainly, the work of some of the great English poets, including William Wordsworth, is no exception to this tendency. Wordsworth’s work is commonly thought of as intellectual and sophisticated, yet it often explores into deeply passionate and lyrical themes. In his poems, Wordsworth used nature as a means of helping to reveal and understand the human mind. He often sees a relationship with nature as the revelation of truth, and a distance from nature as a sad commentary on the removal of man from the natural world. In Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, Wordsworth underlines the point of reaching a more mature and philosophical state of mind after weeping over the loss of bliss of his childhood. He uses images of nature to provide evidence for his claim.
The first stanza discusses the effects of time on the bloom and beauty of youth. Wordsworth specifies the incomparable beauty of nature in his childhood; "There was a time when meadow, grove, and streams, the earth, and every common sight, to me did seem Apparelled in celestial light". The second stanza provides evidence to the first stanza by suggesting that Wordsworth himself has changed, and claims that the dim of nature is the particular reason for this. This leads him to change his ideas concerning nature, and he becomes less subtle to the splendor of nature; “But yet I know, where'er I go, that there hath past away a glory from the earth”. On the following stanzas, Wordsworth mentions the song of birds and little lambs to describe the beauty of nature. He speaks to "Thou Child of Joy", who represents the intense, and natural joy of childhood. He continues by saying that he understands and shares the child’s’ joy, since he once experienced the life of a happy child. He mourns the loss of this joy, asking "Whiter is fled the visionary gleam?" He reflects on the "shades of the prison house" of everyday life, and contrasts them with the splendor of his childhood, remaining "Nature's Priest" until he is an adult. In stanza 8, Wordsworth asks the child why he plays at being an adult. The mournful tone clearly shows the author's sadness at losing the joy of childhood.
Wordsworth also uses reflections of nature to help illustrate the pleasure if a more mature and reflective state of mind. He sees earth as a mother that replaces the fading glory of childhood with natural pleasures. Says Wordsworth, "And, even with something of a Mother's mind, And no unworthy aim, The homely Nurse doth all she can, To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man, Forget the glories he hath known, And that imperial palace whence he came." The author is thankful for the faded and dim recollections of the beauty of nature in his childhood glory and these recollections comfort him. In his imagination, the man can go back and recall the glory and immortality of his childhood through his remembrance of the beauty of nature. The final stanza is written to nature itself. He takes pleasure in the mature mind, and the pleasures of the philosophic mind, faith and sympathy. Wordsworth notes that he may sometimes take more pleasure in nature than when he was a child, "I love the Brooks which down their channels fret, Even more than when I tripped lightly as they; The innocent brightness of a new-born Day Is lovely yet".
In conclusion, reflections of nature play a crucial role in both weeping the lost joy of childhood, and learning to appreciate the pleasures of a mature, thoughtful existence in William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. Wordsworth uses images of spring, brooks, meadows, and streams to illustrate that he weepss the loss of his childhood, and his immortal existence. He also uses reflections of the beauty of nature to show the pleasures of a mature and thoughtful life that is mindful of mortality. In the final stanza he notes, "The Clouds that gather round the setting sun, do take a sober coloring from an eye, that hath kept watch o'er man's mortality".
Weiss, Philip. "< http://www.philsliteraryworks.com/pdfs/Essay on Ode - Intimations of Immortality.pdf >" . N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar 2014.
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.