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Ode on Intimations of Immortality Questions and Answers

Ode on Intimations of Immortality Questions and Answers

 

1 . Write a short critical estimate of Ode on Intimations of Immortality. 

 

Ans. Ode on Intimations of Immortality is the high water-mark of in turn with a crisis, an explanation, and a consolation, and in all the three Wordsworth speaks of what is most important and most original in his poetry in 19th century. The peculiarity of this Ode is that it was not written at a time. The Ode consists of eleven stanzas. The first four stanzas were written in 1802 whereas the last seven were written three to four years later.

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But the delay in composition has made no difference to the unity of the poem. There is a sequence of thought. There is a unification of sensibility. A great architectural power has been demonstrated in the fusion of many strands of thoughts and feelings into a perfect unity. In this connection Bowra says, “It (the poem) is built on a simple and majestic plan.

The first four stanzas tell of a spiritual crisis, of a glory passing from the earth and end by asking why this has happened.” The middle stanzas (V-VIII) examine the nature of this glory and explain it by a theory of reminiscence from a prenatal existence. Then the last three stanzas show how that though the vision has perished life has still a meaning and value. The three parts of the Ode deal

The poem has all the grandeur and sublimity of a great Ode. It is not like his usual odes, more formal and more regular. It has no fixed form. It is not built of repeated stanzas. The poem is simply a development of the ‘Pindarick’. It offers a greater variety of structure and taken greater risks with the length of its lines. The poem has a capacious sweep and the form suits the majestic theme with which the poet deals.

The poem gives us a philosophy. The child’s soul had existed before it inhabited the human body. The child begins by feeling this material world strange to him. The common objects of nature seem to him. ‘apparelled in celestial light’. Childhood is thus the best period of life. The child is the ‘mighty prophet’, ‘the seer blest’. He has the strange perception of the deep truths of life. But this instinct tends to die afterwards when the child attains the manhood.

This is the philosophy of the poem. But since Wordsworth is not a philosopher in the real sense of the term, philosophy here has never been intellectualised. Philosiphy is attuned to the services of poetry. The poetry is resorted to express the joys and feelings felt in childhood. The poetic beauty of the Ode lies in its sweep of imaginative vision, surge of impassioned emotion. Let us examine how a great and highly recondite philosophical truth has been expressed in the lines most beautiful in its magic and sensuous beauty : 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. The Ode is famous for its use of imageries. The imagery carries and develops its thought. It is functionally related to the theme. The imagery renders the theme powerfully defining and refining it. Light plays throughout the poem and it is the central image. The earth and the every common object once seemed apparelled in ‘celestial light’.

The light was like a garment. It could be taken off. It was not natural to the earth; it has been taken off, we have then the ‘Rainbow’, the ‘Moon’, the ‘stars’ and the ‘sun’-all are the examples of celestial light. The poet cannot see the gleam, the moon can see it. She sheds the gleam herself she lights up and creates her world. So it is with the child who is at once both the source and the recipient of the visionary gleam.

The sunshine participates in the glory-The sunshine is a glorious birth’. The word birth suggests that it is a dawn scene; it is the childhood of the sun’s course, not the maturity. The child coming upon the world, trailing his clouds of glory, is like the sun or moon which brings its radiance with it, moonlight or starlight or dawn light. The image of light has now and then shifted into darkness and darkness into light. But with Stanza III the emphasis is shifted from sight to sound. The stanza is dominated by sound:

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song, And while the young lambs bound As to the tabor’s sound,

 

The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep: The diction used in the poem befits its theme. The poem has nothing of the artificiality or stateliness of the language of the 18th century. The diction is of ‘dignified simplicity’. The diction, thought and music are fused together. The diction sometimes rises to the highest grandeur without becoming pompous :

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.

2 .Comment upon the loss-cum-recompense theme of Immortality Ode.

Or,

‘Whither is field the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?’ How does Wordsworth explain this loss? What is its compensation?

Ans. Immortality Ode centres on the theme of loss and recompense. The poet repines for his loss of sensuous experience. It is a loss that seems to leave him a dead thing in a world of life and beauty. But the poet has its compensation in the obstinate questionings, in quickened human sympathy and in the growth of philosophic mind. Wordsworth’s other poem Tintern Abbey has too its theme of loss and recompense.

In Tintern Abbey, the poet speaks of that intense absorption, of those joys and raptures of “thoughtless youth”. The poet has the abundant recompense-the vision of integral harmony. But there is a marked difference between the two losses in the two poems. The ‘loss’ is somewhat ignored in the Tintern Abbey but deeply deplored in Immortality Ode.

The ‘losses’ belong to two different worlds of feeling and sensibility in the former; of the spirit, of the imagination in the latter. However, the first four stanzas in Immortality Ode express the poet’s sense of ‘loss’ and the last three speak of the ‘compensation’. In the poet’s childhood, the most commonplace objects of nature such as meadow, grove and stream, seemed to the poet to be invested with a heavenly splendour.

All these objects appeared to the poet to be unreal and unsubstantial, having a visionary other-worldly gleam upon them. But in the poet’s mature years the dreamlike vividness and splendour have now faded. The poet repines :

Turn wheresoe’er I may,

By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no more. The beautiful objects of nature like the rainbow, rose, moonlight come in their proper time but the poet does not find the same celestial light in them :

The Rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the Rose, The Moon doth with delight

But yet I know, where’er I go, That there hath past away a glory from the earth. In the spring season, there is joy all around. The birds sing. The young lambs bound as to tabor’s sound. The waterfalls make a roaring sound. All the earth is gay. Every beast keeps holiday. But the poet cannot attune his mind to nature’s joy. One or the other object of nature, a tree or a field, for instance, reminds him of the loss of heavenly splendour. Even the pansy at his feet repeats the same tale: -But there’s a Tree, of many, one,

A single Field which I have looked upon, Both of them speak of something that is gone: The Pansy at my feet .

Doth the same tale repeat:

But the poet has his compensations. The reminiscences of our heavenly home, though fleeting and transient, do occasionally come in our mature years. Contemplation on the poet’s own past life fills him with a sense of gratitude and thankfulness not simply for the feeling of delight, the sense of freedom. He feels grateful for the persistent doubts as to the reality of the sense perceptions and actuality of the external objects.

The poet also feels grateful for the moods of dreaminess and abstraction in childhood when the objects of nature appeared to him as unreal and unsubstantial. All these recollections of the childhood are the guiding power of our future moral life. They show us the path of righteousness and they build our character. These give us strength and consolation in moments of doubt and despondency.

The poet now finds a great bond of sympathy between man and nature. This mutual sympathy once ingrained in our heart lasts throughout our life. Again, contemplation of human suffering leaves a sobering effect on our mind. He becomes able to believe in a life beyond the grave. These are the gains of manhood and outweigh the loss of celestial glory of childhood. The poet says:

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. The experiences of human suffering have made the poet more sober and reflective than he used to be during his childhood. He has now developed a philosophic outlook. He can now perceive that even the most commonplace object of nature holds a deeper significance to him now.

The poet says: 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.

3. Consider the Immortality Ode as a statement of the restoration of the poet’s faith in nature and man.

Ans. Wordsworth is primitively a poet of nature. In the main body of his poetical works, nature comes first and man second. This is true in case of Immortality Ode in which we have the restoration of the poet’s faith in nature and man.

In the poet’s childhood every object of Nature seemed to him to be invested with a heavenly radiance. But in his mature years the divine radiance and that dreamlike splendour have gone away for ever. Nature is still beautiful to him. He can still appreciate the beauty of the rainbow, the moonlight, the sunshine, etc. but the poet does not find the same heavenly glory in them :

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. The sense of loss makes the poet sad but soon he becomes cheerful when he realizes that is the season of spring and nature is gay all around when the birds sing a joyous song, ‘the young lambs bound as to the tabor’s sound, the cataracts blow their trumpets and the echoes of the waterfalls reverberate ceaselessly’. The earth and the sea have worn a gay and joyful aspect.

The morning sky is shining and laughing, as it were, in sympathy with the joy of the children, The jolly shepherd boys cheer and shout. But the poet cannot attune his mind to nature’s joy. One or the other object of nature reminds him of the loss of something divine and heavenly. But he has his gains as well. He now finds a great bond of sympathy between man and nature. This sympathy once deeply seated in our heart lasts throughout our life:

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind: In the primal sympathy

Which having been must ever be;

Manhood has taught the poet to hold a deep communion with nature. The objects of nature have inspired moral ideas in the poet. The cloud assumes a sad beauty in his eyes and gives him thoughts which are too deep for expression. Even the humblest flower suggests to the poet the thoughts which are so intense that they cannot find expression even in tears. Nature now has become spiritualised for the poet. The poet finds consolation :

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye

To me the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Once other aspects of Wordsworth’s poetry of man, that draws out attention is his glorification of childhood in Immortality Ode. The child has been glorified and idealised by the poet. A child remains surrounded by a bright heavenly radiance.

That is why every object of nature seems to be clothed in a heavenly light. The child as an integral part of eternity has dim recollection of pre-natal existence. The child is the poet, the best philosopher, mighty prophet who has an intuitive vision of things. The child’s soul is great but his outward appearance gives us an incorrect idea of his greatness.

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