“Ode” by William Wordsworth

This is one of my favorite stanzas (V) from Wordsworth’s romanticized poem, better known as “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” This poetic paragraph takes for granted a biblical (or Platonic) pre-existence, which mourns the loss of a child’s vision of an ideal world fading away “into the light of common day,” in what feels like a Hebrew prayer:

Our birth is but a sleep and forgetting;

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting

And cometh from afar;

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy;

The Youth, who daily farthest from the east

Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended;

At length the Man perceives it die away,

And fade into the light of common day.

Chester Delagneau


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