For Monday: English Romantic Poetry: William Wordsworth
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections in Early Childhood” (pp.51-57): read the entire poem, but the questions will only focus on Stanzas 1-7
NOTE: This is a longer poem, though it’s broken up into short stanza chapters. Read it slowly, and focus on each stanza as an individual poem. Then consider how each one develops a general ‘story’ or narrative about Wordsworth’s life. Consider this, too, as a kind of mid-life crisis poem: Wordsworth feels himself pulling away from the innocent joys he used to experience in life, and the poem is an attempt to find himself—and to convince other readers to find themselves in the thickets of adulthood.
Answer 2 of the 4 questions below:
1. According to Stanzas 1-4, what causes the poet to feel distanced from the natural world? What has come between him and his imagination/emotions? In Stanza 2 he writes that “But yet I know, where’er I go,/That there hath past away a glory from the earth.” What is this “glory” that has passed away? Can we hint at what he feels or sees that is missing?
2. Read Stanza 5 carefully: how are the metaphors trying to explain the nature of life on earth? Why is birth “a sleep and a forgetting”? Why do “shades of the prison-house begin to close/Upon the growing Boy”? And why might a young boy/girl be “Nature’s Priest”?
3. In Stanza 6, Wordsworth uses the metaphor of Nature as a Nurse, and the Youth being her “Foster-child.” In what way are we to understand Nature as nursing a child that is not her own, but which she loves “with something of a Mother’s mind”?
4. Stanza 7 is one of the most important in the entire poem for explaining a very Romantic philosophy of adulthood. What does he mean by the phrase “The little Actor cons another part…As if his whole vocation/Were endless imitation.” How might this be another way of stating Shakespeare’s famous line from As You Like It that “All the world’s a stage”?