These pages show the copy of William Wordsworth’s ‘Ode’ submitted to Longman’s, publishers of Poems in Two Volumes (1807). From 1815, it would be given its more famous title ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’.
When and where was it originally composed?
Some or all of stanzas one to four were written on 27 March 1802; most of the last seven were completed in early 1804, probably on 6 March. At the time, Wordsworth was living at Town-End, Grasmere. This reflection on the processes of maturity, then, was begun just before the poet’s 31st birthday.
What did Wordsworth say about it?
In a letter to his friend Catherine Clarkson he explained that,
The poem rests entirely upon two recollections of childhood, one that of a splendour in the objects of sense which is passed away, and the other an indisposition to bend to the law of death as applying to our own particular case. A Reader who has not a vivid recollection of these feelings having existed in his mind cannot understand that poem.
How did Wordsworth reflect on it later?
From 1815, Wordsworth gave the poem this epigraph:
The child is the father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
This comes from ‘My Heart Leaps Up’, a shorter poem reflecting on the same themes, which Wordsworth had probably written on 26 March 1802, and which was also included in Poems in Two Volumes.
Print this Poem with a separate
Title page - Thus
There was a time when meadow, grove, & stream,
The earth, & every common sight,
To me did seem -
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory & the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it has 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 Rainb[ow co]mes & 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 & 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.
N.B. Let the Printer observe
that the short lines in the ^ following part of this Mss are printed
too far in written too far in; let them
stand in the middle of the page.
- Full title:
- 'Intimations of Immortality' from William Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes, 1807: the printer's manuscript
- estimated 14 November 1806 - early April 1807, Coleorton, Leicestershire
- William Wordsworth
- © Dove Cottage - Wordsworth Trust
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 47864
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- Romanticism, London
Wordsworth’s vision of London’s serene beauty was composed on the roof of a coach – the poet was en route to France to meet his illegitimate daughter Caroline for the first time. Professor John Mullan explores the background to the poem.
- Article by:
- Sally Bushell
William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Ruined Cottage’ tells the tale of a family torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. Professor Sally Bushell charts the decline of person through place in the poem.
- Article by:
- Philip Shaw
Professor Philip Shaw considers the composition of 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey', and explains how Wordsworth uses nature to explore ideas of connection and unity.
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