Ode: Intimations of Immortality

Ode: Intimations Of Immortality

Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood (also known as Ode, Immortality Ode or Great Ode) is a poem by William Wordsworth, completed in 1804 and published in Poems, in Two Volumes (1807). The poem was completed in two parts, with the first four stanzas written among a series of poems composed in 1802 about childhood. The first part of the poem was completed on 27 March 1802 and a copy was provided to Wordsworth's friend and fellow poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who responded with his own poem, Dejection: An Ode, in April. The fourth stanza of the ode ends with a question, and Wordsworth was finally able to answer it with 7 additional stanzas completed in early 1804. It was first printed as Ode in 1807, and it was not until 1815 that it was edited and reworked to the version that is currently known, Ode: Intimations of Immortality.

The poem is an irregular Pindaric ode in 11 stanzas that combines aspects of Coleridge's Conversation poems, the religious sentiments of the Bible and the works of Saint Augustine, and aspects of the elegiac and apocalyptic traditions. It is split into three movements: the first of 4 stanzas discusses concerns about lost vision, the second of 4 stanzas describes how age causes man to lose sight of the divine, and the third of 3 stanzas is hopeful in that the memory of the divine allows us to sympathise with our fellow man. The poem relies on the concept of Pre-existence, the idea that the soul existed before the body, to connect children with the ability to witness the divine within nature. As children mature, they become more worldly and lose this divine vision, and the ode reveals Wordsworth's understanding of psychological development that is also found in his poems The Prelude and Tintern Abbey. Wordsworth's praise of children as the "best philosopher" was criticised by Coleridge and became the source of later critical discussion.

Modern critics sometimes referred to Wordsworth's poem as the "Great Ode" and ranked it among his best poems, but this wasn't always the case. Contemporary reviews of the poem were mixed, with many reviewers attacking the work or, like Lord Byron, dismissing the work without analysis. The critics felt that Wordsworth's subject matter was too "low" and some felt that the emphasis on childhood was misplaced. Among the Romantic poets, most praised various aspects of the poem however. By the Victorian period, most reviews of the ode were positive with only John Ruskin taking a strong negative stance against the poem. The poem continued to be well received into the 20th-century, with few exceptions. The majority ranked it as one of Wordsworth's greatest poems.

Read more about Ode: Intimations Of Immortality:  Background, Style, Poem, Themes, Critical Reception

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