Manuscript of 'Intimations of Immortality' by William Wordsworth

Description

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.

Transcript

                                                                                                    14
                                                                                                  105
                                                                                                    87
Print this Poem with a separate
Title page - Thus
                                                                                         No 4.
                                                                Ode
_____________________________________________________________

                                                                Ode

                              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.

                                                                3
                                          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
Created:
estimated 14 November 1806 - early April 1807, Coleorton, Leicestershire
Format:
Manuscript
Creator:
William Wordsworth
Copyright:
© Dove Cottage - Wordsworth Trust
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
Add MS 47864

Related articles

An introduction to ‘Tintern Abbey’

Article by:
Philip Shaw
Theme:
Romanticism

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.

Wordsworth and the sublime

Article by:
Philip Shaw
Theme:
Romanticism

Professor Philip Shaw explores the role of the sublime in Wordsworth's autobiographical Prelude, explaining how the poet uses the concept to investigate nature, imagination and the divine.

'Composed upon Westminster Bridge'

Article by:
John Mullan
Themes:
London, Romanticism

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.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

The Prelude (Book I)

Created by: William Wordsworth

The subtitle of The Prelude is ‘Growth of a Poet’s Mind’. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) began ...

'I wandered lonely as a cloud'

Created by: William Wordsworth

A lyric poem inspired by an event on 15 April 1802, when William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a ...

'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802'

Created by: William Wordsworth

‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ is a sonnet by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ...