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As the child goes through adolescence, he continues to bond with nature and this is slowly replaced by a love for humanity, a concept known as "One Life". This leads to the individual despairing and only being able to resist despair through imagination. The idea allows the narrator to claim that people are weighed down by the roles they play over time. The narrator is also able to claim through the metaphor that people are disconnected from reality and see life as if in a dream.
Wordsworth returns to the ideas found within the complete ode many times in his later works. There is also a strong connection between the ode and Wordsworth's Ode to Duty , completed at the same time in The poems describe Wordsworth's assessment of his poetry and contains reflections on conversations held between Wordsworth and Coleridge on poetry and philosophy.
The basis of the Ode to Duty states that love and happiness are important to life, but there is something else necessary to connect an individual to nature, affirming the narrator's loyalty to a benevolent divine presence in the world. However, Wordsworth was never satisfied with the result of Ode to Duty as he was with Ode: Intimations of Immortality. The argument and the ideas are similar to many of the statements in the ode along with those in The Prelude , Tintern Abbey , and "We Are Seven".
He would also return directly to the ode in his poem Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendor and Beauty where he evaluates his own evolving life and poetic works while discussing the loss of an early vision of the world's joys. In the Ode: Intimations of Immortality , Wordsworth concluded that he gives thanks that was able to gain even though he lost his vision of the joy in the world, but in the later work he tones down his emphasis on the gain and provides only a muted thanks for what remains of his ability to see the glory in the world.
Wordsworth's ode is a poem that describes how suffering allows for growth and an understanding of nature,  and this belief influenced the poetry of other Romantic poets. Wordsworth followed a Virgilian idea called lachrimae rerum , which means that "life is growth" but it implies that there is also loss within life. To Wordsworth, the loss brought about enough to make up for what was taken. Shelley, in his Prometheus Unbound , describes a reality that would be the best that could be developed but always has the suffering, death, and change.
John Keats developed an idea called "the Burden of the Mystery" that emphasizes the importance of suffering in the development of man and necessary for maturation. In Coleridge's theory, his poetic abilities were the basis for happiness and without them there would only be misery. The ode praises children for being the "best Philosopher" "lover of truth" because they live in truth and have prophetic abilities. The omnipresent Spirit works equally in them, as in the child; and the child is equally unconscious of it as they.
Richards, in his work Coleridge on Imagination , responds to Coleridge's claims by asking, "Why should Wordsworth deny that, in a much less degree, these attributes are equally suitable to a bee, or a dog, or a field of corn? Later, Cleanth Brooks reanalyzes the argument to point out that Wordsworth would include the animals among the children. He also explains that the child is the "best philosopher" because of his understanding of the "eternal deep", which comes from enjoying the world through play: "They are playing with their little spades and sand-buckets along the beach on which the waves break.
If Wordsworth's weakness is incongruity, his strength is propriety. That Coleridge should tell us this at such length tells as much about Coleridge as about Wordsworth: reading the second volume of the Biographia , we learn not only Wordsworth's strong and weak points but also the qualities that most interest Coleridge. While modern critics believe that the poems published in Wordsworth's collection represented a productive and good period of his career, contemporary reviewers were split on the matter and many negative reviews cast doubts on his circle of poets known as the Lake Poets.
Many, with inferior abilities, have acquired a loftier seat on Parnassus, merely by attempting strains in which Mr. Southey, in an 8 December letter to Walter Scott, wrote, "There are certainly some pieces there which are good for nothing The Ode upon Pre-existence is a dark subject darkly handled. Coleridge is the only man who could make such a subject luminous. Francis Jeffrey, a Whig lawyer and editor of the Edinburgh Review , originally favoured Wordsworth's poetry following the publication of Lyrical Ballads in but turned against the poet from onward.
In response to Wordsworth's collection of poetry, Jeffrey contributed an anonymous review to the October Edinburgh Review that condemned Wordsworth's poetry again. We can pretend to give no analysis or explanation of it;-- our readers must make what they can of the following extracts. He believed that Wordsworth's greatest weakness was portraying the low aspects of life in a lofty tone. Another semi-negative response to the poem followed on 4 January in the Eclectic Review. The writer, James Montgomery , attacked the collection of poems for depicting low subjects.
When it came to the ode, Montgomery attacked the poem for depicting pre-existence. Wordsworth himself is so frequently compelled to employ it, for the expression of thoughts which without it would be incommunicable. These volumes are distinguished by the same blemishes and beauties as were found in their predecessors, but in an inverse proportion: the defects of the poet, in this performance, being as much greater than his merits, as they were less in his former publication.
After our preliminary remarks on Mr. Wordsworth's theory of poetical language, and the quotations which we have given from these and his earlier compositions, it will be unnecessary to offer any further estimate or character of his genius. We shall only add one remark Of the pieces now published he has said nothing: most of them seem to have been written for no purpose at all, and certainly to no good one. Wordsworth often speaks in ecstatic strains of the pleasure of infancy. If we rightly understand him, he conjectures that the soul comes immediately from a world of pure felicity, when it is born into this troublous scene of care and vicissitude This brilliant allegory, for such we must regard it, is employed to illustrate the mournful truth, that looking back from middle age to the earliest period of remembrance we find, 'That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth,' Such is Life ".
Though it was a review of his uncle's Remorse , he connects the intention and imagery found within Coleridge's poem to that in Ode: Intimation of Immortality and John Wilson's "To a Sleeping Child" when saying, "To an extension or rather a modification of this last mentioned principle [obedience to some internal feeling] may perhaps be attributed the beautiful tenet so strongly inculcated by them of the celestial purity of infancy. Wordsworth, in a passage which strikingly exemplifies the power of imaginative poetry".
In the review, he partially condemns Wordsworth's emphasis in the ode on children being connected to the divine: "His occasional lapses into childish and trivial allusion may be accounted for, from the same tendency. He is obscure, when he leaves out links in the chain of association, which the reader cannot easily supply In his descriptions of children this is particularly the case, because of his firm belief in a doctrine, more poetical perhaps, than either philosophical or christian, that 'Heaven lies about us in our infancy. John Taylor Coleridge continues by explaining the negative aspects of such a concept: "Though the tenderness and beauty resulting from this opinion be to us a rich overpayment for the occasional strainings and refinements of sentiment to which it has given birth, it has yet often served to make the author ridiculous in common eyes, in that it has led him to state his own fairy dreams as the true interpretation and import of the looks and movements of children, as being even really in their minds.
Wordsworth, we should have said nothing; but we believe him to be one not willing to promulgate error, even in poetry, indeed it is manifest that he makes his poetry subservient to his philosophy; and this particular notion is so mixed up by him with others, in which it is impossible to suppose him otherwise than serious; that we are constrained to take it for his real and sober belief.
In the same year came responses to the ode by two Romantic writers. Leigh Hunt , a second-generation Romantic poet, added notes to his poem Feast of the Poets that respond to the ideas suggested in Wordsworth's poetry. These ideas include Wordsworth's promotion of a simple mental state without cravings for knowledge, and it is such an ideas that Hunt wanted to mock in his poem. However, Hunt did not disagree completely with Wordsworth's sentiments. Far be it also from me to hinder the communication of such thoughts to mankind, when they are not sunk beyond their proper depth, so as to make one dizzy in looking down to them.
Wordsworth's New Poems" in three parts, starting in the 21 August Examiner. Although Hazlitt treated Wordsworth's poetry fairly, he was critical of Wordsworth himself and he removed any positive statements about Wordsworth's person from a reprint of the essays. Wordsworth's poetry is to be found only in the subject and style: the sentiments are subtle and profound. In the latter respect, his poetry is as much above the common standard or capacity, as in the other it is below it We go along with him, while he is the subject of his own narrative, but we take leave of him when he makes pedlars and ploughmen his heroes and the interpreters of his sentiments.
In came two more responses by Romantic poets to the ode. Coleridge was impressed by the ode's themes, rhythm, and structure since he first heard the beginning stanzas in In his argument, he both defended his technique and explained: "Though the instances of this defect in Mr. Wordsworth's poems are so few, that for themselves it would have been scarce just to attract the reader's attention toward them; yet I have dwelt on it, and perhaps the more for this very reason.
For being so very few, they cannot sensibly detract from the reputation of an author, who is even characterized by the number of profound truths in his writings, which will stand the severest analysis; and yet few as they are, they are exactly those passages which his blind admirers would be most likely, and best able, to imitate.
Another aspect Coleridge favoured was the poem's originality of thought and how it contained Wordsworth's understanding of nature and his own experience. Coleridge also praised the lack of a rigorous structure within the poem and claimed that Wordsworth was able to truly capture the imagination. However, part of Coleridge's analysis of the poem and of the poet tend to describe his idealised version of positives and negative than an actual concrete object.
Milnes, that John Keats, one of the second-generation Romantic poets, discussed the poem with him. Following Coleridge's response was an anonymous review in the May Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine , possible by either John Lockhart and John Wilson together or just Lockhart on his own.
Of Wordsworth's abilities as a poet in general, the review claimed: "Mr Wordsworth When discussing the poem, Talfourd declared that the ode "is, to our feelings, the noblest piece of lyric poetry in the world. It was the first poem of its author which we read, and never shall we forget the sensations which it excited within us. We had heard the cold sneers attached to his name To have the best and most imperishable of intellectual treasures — the mighty world of reminiscences of the days of infancy — set before us in a new and holier light".
William Blake, a Romantic poet and artist, thought that Wordsworth was at the same level as the poets Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton. In a diary entry for 27 December , H. Robinson recounted a conversation between himself and William Blake shortly before Blake's death: "I read to him Wordsworth's incomparable ode, which he heartily enjoyed. But he repeated, 'I fear Wordsworth loves nature, and nature is the work of the Devil. The Devil is in us as 'far as we are nature. The parts of Wordsworth's ode which Blake most enjoyed were the most obscure—at all events, those which I least like and comprehend.
In the third part, he critiqued Wordsworth's use of pre-existence within the poem and asked "unless our author means to say that, having existed from all eternity, we are of an eternal and indestructible essence; or, in other words, that being incarnate portion of the Deity But if the poet intends to affirm this, do you not perceive that he frustrates his own aim? There appears to be a laborious toiling after originality, ending in a dismal want of harmony.
The ode, like others of Wordsworth's poetry, was favoured by Victorians for its biographical aspects and the way Wordsworth approached feelings of despondency. The American Romantic poet Ralph Waldo Emerson , in his work English Traits , claimed that the poem "There are torpid places in his mind, there is something hard and sterile in his poetry, want of grace and variety, want of due catholicity and cosmopolitan scope: he had conformities to English politics and tradition; he had egotistic puerilities in the choice and treatment of his subjects; but let us say of him, that, alone in his time he treated the human mind well, and with an absolute trust.
His adherence to his poetic creed rested on real inspirations. For sustained splendor of imagination, deep, solemn, and progressive thought, and exquisite variety of music, that poem is unsurpassed.
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Since Milton's 'Ode upon the Nativity' there is nothing so fine, not forgetting Dryden, Pope, Collins, and the rest, who have written odes. The philosopher John Stuart Mill liked Wordsworth's ode and found it influential to the formation of his own thoughts. In his Autobiography , he credited Wordsworth's poetry as being able to relieve his mind and overcome a sense of apathy towards life. Of the poems, he particularly emphasised both Wordsworth's collection of poetry and the Ode: Intimations of Immortality as providing the most help to him, and he specifically said of the ode: "I found that he too had had similar experience to mine; that he also had felt that the first freshness of youthful enjoyment of life was not lasting; but that he had sought for compensation, and found it, in the way in which he was now teaching me to find it.
The result was that I gradually, but completely, emerged from my habitual depression, and was never again subject to it. After quoting from the ode, Mason claimed of the poem: "These, and hundreds of other passages that might be quoted, show that Wordsworth possessed, in a very high degree indeed, the true primary quality of the poet—imagination; a surcharge of personality or vital spirit, perpetually overflowing among the objects of the otherwise conditioned universe, and refashioning them according to its pleasure.
After Mill, critics focused on the ode's status among Wordsworth's other poems. But the poet of 'Tintern Abbey' and the 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality' and the 'Prelude' is Wordsworth in his period of highest energy and imaginative light". However, he explains why he believed that the ode was not one of the best: "I have a warm admiration for Laodameia and for the great Ode ; but if I am to tell the very truth, I find Laodameia not wholly free from something artificial, and the great Ode not wholly free from something declamatory.
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In general, we may say of these high instincts of early childhood The Victorian critic John Ruskin , towards the end of the 19th century, provided short analyses of various writers in his "Nature and Literature" essays collected in "Art and Life: a Ruskin Anthology". In speaking of Wordsworth, Ruskin claimed, "Wordsworth is simply a Westmoreland peasant, with considerably less shrewdness than most border Englishmen or Scotsmen inherit; and no sense of humor; but gifted The ode, to Ruskin, becomes a means to deride Wordsworth's intellect and faith when he claims that Wordsworth was "content with intimations of immortality such as may be in skipping of lambs, and laughter of children-incurious to see in the hands the print of the nails.
Ruskin on Wordsworth", stated, "We should hardly have expected Mr. Ruskin—a great master of irony though he be—to lay his finger so unerringly as he does on the weak point of Wordsworth's sublime ode on the 'Intimations of Immortality,' when he speaks of him—quite falsely, by the way—as 'content with intimations of immortality'".
But any one to whom Wordsworth's great ode is the very core of that body of poetry which makes up the best part of his imaginative life, will be as much astonished to find Mr. Ruskin speaking of it so blindly and unmeaningly as he does". The ode was viewed positively by the end of the century.
George Saintsbury, in his A Short History of English Literature , declared the importance and greatness of the ode: "Perhaps twice only, in Tintern Abbey and in the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality , is the full, the perfect Wordsworth, with his half-pantheistic worship of nature, informed and chastened by an intense sense of human conduct, of reverence and almost of humbleness, displayed in the utmost poetic felicity.
And these two are accordingly among the great poems of the world. No unfavorable criticism on either — and there has been some, new and old, from persons in whom it is surprising, as well as from persons in whom it is natural — has hurt them, though it may have hurt the critics. They are, if not in every smallest detail, yet as wholes, invulnerable and imperishable. They could not be better done. At the beginning of the 20th century, response to the ode by critics was mostly positive.
Andrew Bradley declared in that "The Immortality Ode, like King Lear , is its author's greatest product, but not his best piece of work. Most of them have already been considered. However, one remains which, in the judgment of some critics, more than any other poem of the numerous creations of his genius, entitles him to a seat among the Immortals.
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This is the celebrated [ode] It is, in some respects, one of his most important works, whether viewed from the stand point of mere art, or from that of poetic insight. Yet, when we look close, we find nothing unreal or unfinished. This beauty, though supernal, is not evanescent. It bides our return, and whoever comes to seek it as a little child will find it.
The imagery, though changing at every turn, is fresh and simple. The language, though connected with thoughts so serious that they impart to it a classic dignity, is natural and for the most part plain Nevertheless, a peculiar glamour surrounds the poem. It is the supreme example of what I may venture to term the romance of philosophic thought. The s contained criticism that praised the poem, but most critics found fault with particular aspects of the poem.
But the empty grandiosity apparent there is merely the local manifestation of a general strain, a general factitiousness. The Ode The manipulations by which the change of mood are indicated have, by the end of the third stanza, produced an effect that, in protest, one described as rhythmic vulgarity His analysis broke down the ode as a poem disconnected from its biographical implications and focused on the paradoxes and ironies contained within the language.
In introducing his analysis, he claimed that it "may be surmised from what has already been remarked, the 'Ode' for all its fine passages, is not entirely successful as a poem. Yet, we shall be able to make our best defense of it in proportion as we recognize and value its use of ambiguous symbol and paradoxical statement. Indeed, it might be maintained that, failing to do this, we shall miss much of its power as poetry and even some of its accuracy of statement.
Its structural significance too is of first importance, and has perhaps in the past been given too little weight. They are great poetry because The children exemplify the attitude toward eternity which the other philosopher, the mature philosopher, wins to with difficulty, if he wins to it at all. Instead, he is trying to dramatize the changing interrelations which determine the major imagery. Bowra stated, "There is no need to dispute the honour in which by common consent it [the ode] is held" but he adds "There are passages in the 'Immortal Ode' which have less than his usual command of rhythm and ability to make a line stand by itself But these are unimportant.
The whole has a capacious sweep, and the form suits the majestic subject There are moments when we suspect Wordsworth of trying to say more than he means. It lends itself, more than most English odes, to recitation in the grand manner. By the s and s, the reception of the poem was mixed but remained overall positive. Mary Moorman analysed the poem in with an emphasis on its biographical origins and Wordsworth's philosophy on the relationship between mankind and nature.
When describing the beauty of the poem, she stated, "Wordsworth once spoke of the Ode as 'this famous, ambitious and occasionally magnificent poem'. Yet it is not so much its magnificence that impresses, as the sense of resplendent yet peaceful light in which it is bathed—whether it is the 'celestial light' and 'glory' of the first stanza, or the 'innocent Brightness of a new-born Day' of the last.
And the praise that it has received is at times curiously equivocal. Criticism of the ode during the s ranged in emphasis on which aspects of the poem were most important, but critics were mostly positive regardless of their approach. In , Hunter Davies analysed the period of time when Wordsworth worked on the ode and included it as one of the "scores of poems of unarguable genius",  and later declared the poem Wordsworth's "greatest ode".
Together with Tintern Abbey it has always commanded attention as Wordsworth's strongest meditative poem and Wordsworth indicated his assessment of it by ensuring through the layout and printing of his volumes that the Ode stood apart. And this ambiguity involves another, for Wordsworth makes it impossible to decide whether the tension between resolution and repression In , John Hayden updated Russell Noyes's biography of Wordsworth and began his analysis of the ode by claiming: "Wordsworth's great 'Ode on Immortality' is not easy to follow nor wholly clear.
A basic difficulty of interpretation centers upon what the poet means by 'immortality. In no other poem are poetic conditions so perfectly fulfilled. There is the right subject, the right imagery to express it, and the right meter and language for both.
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Kim Blank, in , argued, "It is the recognition and finally the acceptance of his difficult feelings that stand behind and in the greatness and power of the Ode , both as a personal utterance and a universal statement. It is no accident that Wordsworth is here most eloquent. Becoming a whole person is the most powerful statement any of us can ever made. Wordsworth in the Ode here makes it for us. In particular, he emphasised the poem's full title as "of great importance for all who study the poem carefully" and claimed, "The final stanza is a powerful and peculiarly Wordsworthian valediction.
In the 21st century, the poem was viewed as Wordsworth's best work. Adam Sisman, in , claimed the poem as "one of [Wordsworth's] greatest works". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the musical work by Gerald Finzi, see Intimations of Immortality. Woof p. Abrams, M. Naturalism Supernaturalism. New York: W. Barth, J. Romanticism and Transcendence. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, Bateson, F. Wordsworth: A Re-Interpretation. London: Longman, Beer, John. Wordsworth and the Human Heart. New York: Columbia University Press, Blank, G.
Wordsworth and Feeling. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Bloom, Harold. The Visionary Company. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Bowra, C. The Romantic Imagination.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, Bradley, Andrew. Oxford Lectures on Poetry. London: Macmillan, Brantley, Richard. Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism". New Haven: Yale University Press, Brooks, Cleanth. The Well Wrought Urn. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biographia Literaria II. London: Rest Renner, Curtis, George William. XX December — May Davies, Hunter. William Wordsworth: A Biography. New York: Atheneum, De Man, Paul. The Rhetoric of Romanticism. New York: Columbia, Dowden, Edward. XXX June—November London: Strahan and Company, Durrant, Geoffrey.
Wordsworth and the Great System.
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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Eilenberg, Susan. Strange Power of Speech. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. New York: Viking Press, Fry, Paul.