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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 11/21/2011 07:35 AM

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Summary and Analysis of "My heart leaps up when I behold"

Written on March 26, 1802 and published in 1807 as an epigraph to "Ode: Intimations of Immortality," this poem addresses the same themes found in "Tintern Abbey" and "Ode; Intimations of Immortality," albeit in a much more concise way. The speaker explains his connection to nature, stating that it has been strong throughout his life. He even goes so far as to say that if he ever loses his connection he would prefer to die.

In this very short poem consisting of only 9 lines, the speaker begins by declaring that he is moved by nature, and especially by nature's beauty: "My heart leaps up when I behold / A Rainbow in the sky." He goes on to say that he has always felt the impact of nature, even when he was an infant: "So was it when my life began; / So is it now I am a man." The speaker is so certain of his connection with nature that he says it will be constant until he becomes an old man, or else he would rather die: "So be it when I shall grow old, / Or let me die!" This line, "Or let me die!" shows the strength of the speaker's convictions.

In the next line he declares that children are superior to men because of their proximity to nature: "The Child is father of the Man." For this reason, he wishes to bind himself to his childhood self: "And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety."

A major theme of Wordsworth's poetry is the beauty of childhood. ("The Child is father of the Man.")

In his poetry, childhood is a magical, magnificent time of innocence. Children form an intense bond with nature, so much so that they appear to be a part of the natural world, rather than a part of the human, social world. Their relationship to nature is passionate and extreme: children feel joy at seeing a rainbow but great terror at seeing desolation or decay. Wordsworth thinks that "Heaven lies about us in our infancy!", that we are closer to wisdom and to God when a child than when an...

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