Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth

Yesterday in my Readings in Poetry class proved to be the most interesting 3 hours that I have had so far in this class so far. We were split into groups and were asked to dissect a number of Odes (a type of poem for those who may not know). My group gave an extensive break down of William Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality. Personally, I have never read an Ode before so to take the time to explore one was exciting in itself. I wasn’t expecting it to be as loaded as it was. The Ode, in a nutshell, describes a person’s gradual disillusionment as he grows from an imaginative little boy into a man forced to deal with the everyday solemness of reality. Though I find this topic of disillusionment to be quite popular in literature, I think that the manner in which Wordsworth wrote about it is really unique. The process of growing from confusion to enlightenment is very heavily instilled into every aspect of this poem, including the story the explains how he wrote it in the first place and I find this really fascinating.

You can tell that old William did not (could not) write this Ode at one time. From stanza one all the way to stanza four he is “lost.” He is aware of what surrounds him but cannot ignore a nagging sense of loss that he cannot seem to explain even to himself. However, once one gets to stanza five, he suddenly has this completely formulated theory of what it is that is “missing.” When I first read this, I definitely had a “What just happened?!?” moment but began to understand what was happening after learning that it took Wordsworth two whole years to write this poem. That’s certainly a fair amount of time to have a revelation. Just like the speaker in the poem, Wordsworth was “lost,” tormented by something that he didn’t fully comprehend and it took him two years to work it out. Now there are three layers to this idea: 1. The “nagging” of an incomplete poem 2. The “nagging” of lack of depth in the content of the poem itself (maybe. I don’t know Willy personally. This is just what I think.) and 3. The “nagging” sense of loss of the actual speaker in the p0em. Now that is a lot of depth for a few short stanzas. But I love the complexity in it because it’s almost like the poem directly reflects its subject matter.

I also love the speaker of the poem’s theory that that nagging sense of loss comes from our losing the perception of the world that we have as children as well as the loss of our memories of the Heaven-like paradise in which we reside before we are physically born into the world which, to me, seems like a direct tribute to women as the “holy paradise” that Wordsworth refers to can be a metaphor for the female form (which, of course, I think is awesome!). I don’t know much about William Wordsworth, but he seems to have been a very metaphysical thinker. Or maybe I’m just a very metaphysical thinker for being seeing a connection between his focus on the loss and fight to remember our earliest memories and the loss and fight to remember past lives (YES, I believe in reincarnation. Gotta Problem???)

I will probably write more about this because there is just so much to be said. But until that time comes I’ll post think to the actual poem for whomever may want to check it out themselves and come up with their own opinions. For those who do: Please share what you think in a comment! 🙂


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