Discuss the views of childhood as expressed by Wordsworth in his “Immortality Ode”.
Or, show how Wordsworth glorifies childhood in “Immortality Ode”.
Or, how does Wordsworth idealize the child?
The acclaimed poem of the 19th century “Ode on Intimation of Immortality” by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) which deals with the theme of reminiscence losses and gains provides a very high concept of childhood. Wordsworth’s conception of childhood is apparent in his most popular line “Child is the father of man”. As a great mystic and philosopher, Wordsworth has glorified childhood.
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Wordsworth glorifies childhood in Immortality
At the very outset of the poem, Wordsworth declares that all human beings enjoy heavenly pleasures in childhood as the poet enjoyed in his childhood. In childhood, all objects of nature such as meadow, grove, stream, rainbow, rose, and moonlit seem to cover with celestial or heavenly beauty and pleasures but with the passage of time, such beauty and pleasures disappear though the objects of nature remain unchanged.
“The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”
Thus, Wordsworth confers the philosophic idea that Heaven does stay in childhood and puberty but not in manhood.
Pre-existence of the human soul in the light of childhood
The controversial metaphysical concept of the poem is the pre-existence of the human soul. Since Wordsworth philosophically observes that childhood is the stage of heavenly ecstasy, the abode of the first stage of the human soul is Eden. Side by side, the poet also asserts that the glory of paradise becomes fainter and fainter in the course of life.
“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,”
Therefore, childhood does not only mean a time of celestial pleasures but a stage that bears messages of the pre-existence of the human soul.
Full of care and hope
Parents’ affectionate love and care exist in childhood. Every morning is packed with new hopes and business that are contrary to maturity. Besides liberty resides in full swing in a child. In such a way the pigmy actor enters into a new stage of life.
And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
The psychology of the child
Wordsworth has vividly described child psychology in this poem. The child who been called an imitator and actor. He performs all parts and copies every action and gesture that he sees.
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
That is why a child is glorified as learning is the most secret source of success and happiness in this materialistic world.
The prestige of child
The bombastic prestige of a child has been conferred with a fantastic duality of childhood. There are visible and invisible childhoods in the ode. The visible childhood is open for the readers in the factual language of stanza seven. On the other hand, the invisible childhood is present in stanza eight where metaphor and myth are used to recognize the child as “best philosopher, seer blest” and “eye among the blind”. The invisible childhood runs throughout the maturity and of course till dotage.
The ideal spirit of a child
The child is spiritually greater than the adult man because the worldly pleasures of pelf and power are out and out absent in childhood. In this way, Wordsworth presents an idealized picture of a child calling him “Mighty Prophet”. It is the romantic trait to idealize child’s innocence and pure joy.
Overall, it is to be said that the idealization of child and childhood is philosophic and platonic to a great extent. Moreover, Wordsworth’s treatment of childhood has been wrapped with the mystic vision of life.