Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday poetry blogging: Intimations of Immortality

One thing I like about posting poetry on Fridays is how it makes me dredge my memory and come up with poems that I haven't thought about in years but which, when I read them again, still give me that special poetry rush.

Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality is one of those. For a start, isn't that just the best title? And it just keeps on getting better from there on in.

Because it's so long, I've only posted my favourite bits: lines 1--18* and lines 59--77.

Intimations of Immortality

William Wordsworth


There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell'd 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 pass'd away a glory from the earth.

[...]

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.

Read the rest of it here.
__________

* Even though the first verse does sound a bit like the poetic version of the letters little old ladies write to the newspaper:
"Sir --
It is not now as it hath been of yore. The youth of today are no longer apparell'd in celestial light. Bring back public floggings, that's what I say.
Yours etc,
'Disillusioned', of Dorset".

4 Comments:

Miss M. said...

I quite like the bit about little old ladies writing to the paper... so true, so true. Particularly "disillusioned".

Great poem, its fantastic, aye?

StyleyGeek said...

Yeah, like I said, I'd forgotten how much I liked it until I was thumbing through some poetry yesterday looking for something to post and came across it again.

I think it might have to be Coleridge next week.

What Now? said...

This is so weird; I'm at a conference right now, and today not one but two speakers in different contexts quoted from this poem, especially the lines "Shades of the prison-house begin to close/ Upon the growing Boy." And this is not a conference where one might expect Wordsworth to be popping up at all. Clearly WW is just in the air, in an international sort of way.

StyleyGeek said...

Funny. I almost posted Yeats' "The Second Coming" instead, but changed my mind at the last minute. And then this morning I saw that New Kid on the Hallway posted something by Yeats, so I decided it must have been an international Yeats-is-in-the-air type day yesterday.

But all the time it was really Wordsworth. How bizarre.