Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood


William Wordsworth1770 – 1850

from Poets.org

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 
The earth, and every common sight
                 To me did seem
            Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
             Turn wheresoe’er I may,
              By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

            The rainbow comes and goes, 
            And lovely is the rose; 
            The moon doth with delight
     Look round her when the heavens are bare;
            Waters on a starry night
            Are beautiful and fair;
     The sunshine is a glorious birth;
     But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
     And while the young lambs bound
            As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief, 
            And I again am strong.
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep,--
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong:
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng.
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep, 
            And all the earth is gay;
                Land and sea
     Give themselves up to jollity,
            And with the heart of May
     Doth every beast keep holiday;--
                Thou child of joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy 
Ye blesséd Creatures, I have heard the call 
     Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee; 
     My heart is at your festival,
       My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel--I feel it all.
         O evil day! if I were sullen 
         While Earth herself is adorning
              This sweet May-morning;
         And the children are culling
              On every side
         In a thousand valleys far and wide
         Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm, 
And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm:--
         I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
         --But there’s a tree, of many, one, 
A single field which I have look’d upon, 
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
              The pansy at my feet
              Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam? 
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Our birth is but a sleep and a 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 farther 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.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own; 
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, 
And, even with something of a mother’s mind,
               And no unworthy aim,
          The homely nurse doth all she can 
To make her foster-child, her inmate, Man,
               Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art;
          A wedding or a festival, 
          A mourning or a funeral;
               And this hath now his heart,
          And unto this he frames his song:
               Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife; 
          But it will not be long 
          Ere this be thrown aside, 
          And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his ‘humorous stage’
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That life brings with her in her equipage; 
          As if his whole vocation
          Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie 
          Thy soul’s immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal Mind,--
          Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
          On whom those truths rest
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the day, a master o’er a slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by; 
          To whom the grave
Is but a lonely bed, without the sense of sight
Of day or the warm light,
A place of thoughts where we in waiting lie;
Thou little child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!
          0 joy! that in our embers
          Is something that doth live,
          That Nature yet remembers
          What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest,
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:--
          --Not for these I raise
          The song of thanks and praise;
     But for those obstinate questionings
     Of sense and outward things,
     Fallings from us, vanishings,
     Blank misgivings of a creature
Moving about in worlds not realized, 
High instincts, before which our mortal nature 
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
     But for those first affections,
     Those shadowy recollections,
          Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day, 
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
     Uphold us--cherish--and have power to make 
Our noisy years seem moments in the being 
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
               To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
               Nor man nor boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
   Hence, in a season of calm weather
          Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
               Which brought us hither;
          Can in a moment travel thither--
And see the children sport upon the shore, 
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then, sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
          And let the young lambs bound
          As to the tabor’s sound!
     We, in thought, will join your throng, 
          Ye that pipe and ye that play, 
          Ye that through your hearts to-day 
          Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright 
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
     Though nothing can bring back the hour 
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
          We will grieve not, rather find
          Strength in what remains behind;
          In the primal sympathy
          Which having been must ever be;
          In the soothing thoughts that spring
          Out of human suffering;
          In the faith that looks through death, 
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

And 0, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish’d one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway;
I love the brooks which down their channels fret
Even more than when I tripp’d lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born day
               Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality; 
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
   Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
   Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
   To me the meanest flower that blows can give
   Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Out of the Darkness|Episode 4

A Series of Vignettes

On the Soul’s Journey to Freedom

There she was.  Backlit.  Standing straight.  “Willowy” her friends used to say.  It seemed like she stood still for an eternity.  The breeze, wisping through the open shutters behind her, dancing with her long skirt.  On each side of her the attic came to its shallow peak.  Not a muscle moved.

Suddenly a tiny ebb was glimpsed.  It flowed in a slow creep down her cheek.  A solitary stream leaving behind it the shadow much like the shadowed days since she’d been here.

In this room that seemed to her to echo with laughter of days gone by, she felt as though she was the only shadow here.

Light seemed to gleam from every corner.  How she wished some of that light would pierce into her own soul-shine its opening rays and dispel the darkness!

That’s all it was right?  Just the absence of light?  What if she just surrendered to it?  What if she opened up without being cut and just let the light IN.  What if everyone could suddenly SEE her.

Would they hate her?  Would they punish her?  Would they make her go away?

How could that be worse than this?  She was already living all of those.

The sun glistened in and she felt it stronger.  She FELT it-she felt it and she liked it.

A tiny ray sprouted at the corner of her mouth.

Hope.  She felt HOPE.



Out of the Darkness|Episode 3

A Series of Vignettes

On the Soul’s Journey to Freedom

There was a time when this wasn’t ok-when the harsh realities of life still felt wrong to my soul.  Before my being had been in so many uncomfortable places that the discomfort began to wrap around me like a well loved blanket.

Those times of comfort were days of yore now.  This was my time now.  Those times when I laughed in my daddy’s arms, swooped up with joy when he came home from a long day at work.  The scent of mother strong as he passed me back to her and went to wash up for dinner.  Those happy days together, before the yelling and the struggles began.

Those times were almost mere shadows, blackened out by the darker shadows…

Crouching terrified in the corner.  Weeping unheard.

No wonder this felt comfortable.  Now at least I had some power. I could at least say, “This is MY life.”  I come back here to my glass to swirl it gently in the cloudy light of MY own accord.  No one has driven me here.  Everyone hears me when I cry here.  This is my place of comfort.  This is my place of power.  I have the power to choose, the power to stay or go.  The power to have one more and make it all go away.  This is my choice.

This is my freedom.


Out of the Darkness|Episode 2

A Series of Vignettes

On the Soul’s Journey to Freedom

The stakes were so high.  The rewards so… non existent.

She racked her brain for the “how” of finding herself here again.  Hadn’t she done this?  hadn’t she paid the dues?  Why was she back?  Was she here by choice?

She gave her locks a little shake as though to clear out the fog that had overtaken her.  Could this be happening again?

In the dim light it all looked so familiar.  The dark corners, the shady faces, the slight cloud of smoke hung just above the heads.  Was this hell?  A midnight visit to HERE again.  The tortured remembrance of things long past, dragged, kicking and silent into the pain of the present.

Wasn’t the present supposed to be some kind of gift?  A joy?  A love?  Hadn’t she heard somewhere that life was supposed to be GOOD?

Her neighbor had it on her t-shirt, her cousin on her bumper.  But then, that goodness hadn’t really spread to the neighbor’s husband, had it?  Not when the angry epitaphs slipped through the apartment walls and the bags he packed to leave her rattled and bounced the coffee cups in the complex as he yelled fitting replies behind him.

No, and her cousin hadn’t mentioned the bumper as she lovingly folded another bumper – one that would never be bumped, made with all faith and hope by our Auntie Jo when she heard the little one was finally on the way.  No.  Life wasn’t good.

Life was this haze.  This slowly suffocating haze that Rebecca breathed in yet again.

Life was not good.


Out of the Darkness|Episode 1

A Series of Vignettes

On the Soul’s Journey to Freedom


“The rent is too high.  We can not go there.”  She looked pleadingly at her husband, desperate to avoid disappointment again.  “Come on.”  He pleaded in return. “Things are looking up at work.  We’ll be able to afford it soon.”

Her shoulders fell and she gave in, again.  It was a familiar feeling.  The impending doom waiting ahead of her.  Looming upon the horizon.  Just hidden by a glimmer of hope.  Just out of sight behind a veil of faith.

She would meet it again.  Her foot plodded, first one, then the other, trudging knowingly behind the man she followed.  The rest of her body sagged under the weight of her heavy shoulders.

This was not the first time.

It would not be the last.

How she longed for a faith unshrouded in death.  A hope that did not glisten with a hidden ocean that would drown her once again.

Plod.  Plod.  Plod.  She would tread here again.  Hopeless.  Afraid.  Alone.