Intimations of Immortality poem summary

About the poem

The title of the poem is Ode: “Intimations of Immortality” is from Recollections of Early Childhood”. The poem Ode: Intimations of Immortality is a poem by William Wordsworth composed in 1802 and partly in 1804, ‘Intimations and Immortality’ is one of the noblest poems of Wordsworth. Around the year 1802 the poet was facing a spiritual crisis, the ‘visionary’ experiences that he had come across as an adolescent and as a young man, which was the source of his ‘deepest illuminations’ were gradually losing their shine and glory. The present poem gives expression to the poet’s spiritual crisis, the causes of the lost glory and an answer to the poet’s problem.

Form of the poem

‘Intimations of Immortality’ is written in English Pindaric of the irregular form, which is also known as Cowleyan ode. Wordsworth had never tried such a metre before. Each stanza has its own shape and length, and its own rhyme scheme. The first four lines are in trimetre and the third and fourth are in hypermetrical and rhymes as ABAB.

Summary and Analysis

The poet considers the child as superior to the grown- up man in the spiritual perception of divinity. But it is indeed a joy that even in our mature age, we can recall and recollect the elusive visions, the feeling of immorality and heavenly life experienced during our childhood. In the same breath, the poet makes, it clear that his joys in recollecting those experiences is not due to the blessings of childhood, delight and liberty, rather he is full of gratefulness and thanks for those obstinate questions of sense and outward things, i.e. the poet is not thankful for those blessings for which he should feel most grateful.

Our maturity force us to question and doubt the existence of tangible objects of the world around us, the vague intimations of the existence of a world of spirit and the natural instincts as experienced during the childhood.

During the childhood period he had doubts about the reality of the visible world in which he moved about. The materialistic things seemed to move away from him, and vanish into unreality. But as a grown-up man he feels like a guilty person for now his life is devoid of the former loftiness.

He is grateful to that period because of those innocent feelings and those vague remembrances of previous existence in heaven which have always been a source of joy.

Whatever the cause and effect, they are the primary source of knowledge, wisdom and happiness. These memories strengthen and inspire us. As a result, the years of troubled and noisy times spent in the world are after all just transitory moments in this vast eternity. They support us sustain us and have the power to convert the noise and fury of our life into an eternal calm and serenity, i.e. they are capable of making our troubled period appear to us like a momentary interval of disturbance placed between tranquil eternity of life before birth and after death.

The poet believes that once these truths are visualized through mystical illumination, neither idealness nor the mad pursuit of or endeavors to possess material objects nor the preoccupations of boyhood or manhood, nor all that is at enmity with joy, can destroy their influence.

Hence, when man is advanced in years, the soul has the glimpse of the sea of Immortality which helped us in coming on this earth. Our soul can in a moment recollect the experiences of the childhood. When our mind is vacant and tranquil, and the imagination at its sublime, by recollecting the experiences of childhood, we can easily and instantly go back to the shore of eternity. In other words, in our innocent imagination we can have a vision of our eternal home.

In the poem the poet has picturized childhood with the help of apt images. The first is the image of fire (embers) which slowly dies out in the course of time, leaving ashes behind. The vision of childhood also slowly dies out when we grow up, yet the spark remains. In another image ‘hope’ has been likened to a young bird which flutters with its new- fledged wings. The third affection is used to describe innocent experiences. The words used to describe the process to visualize the eternal abode spontaneously drive home the purpose of the poet instruct through pleasure/delight in a very convincing manner in lines colloquial yet full of meaning. They dignify the simplicity, but at times rises to grandeur without falling into pomposity.

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