Ode: Intimations of Immortality – 11

And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,

Forebode not any severing of our loves!

Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;

I only have relinquished one delight

To live beneath your more habitual sway.

I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,

Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;

The innocent brightness of a new-born Day

Is lovely yet;

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun

Do take a sober colouring from an eye

That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;

Another race hath been, and other palms are won.

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,

Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,

To me the meanest flower that blows can give

Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

In this last passage of Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality,” the speaker intimates his connection with nature and its correlation with mortality. Addressing the “Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,” he expresses his desire never to be disconnected from the natural world by asking them to “Forebode not any severing of [their] loves” (lines 188-189)! The thought of no longer being part of the natural world upon his death is tragic for the speaker, but he marvels at the “might” he feels in his “heart of hearts” as a result of being in nature (190). In comparison to the myriad births and deaths to which nature is privy everyday, he realizes that he has “only…relinquished one delight / To live beneath [the] more habitual sway” of nature – which is to say he had to forgo immortality by virtue of his birth in the natural world, which is more accustomed to life and death in a habitual sense (191-192).

The speaker then goes on to compare “the Brooks which down their channels fret,” with his own experience as a child who “tripped lightly as they,” and concludes that he even loves the brooks more (193, 194). The next three lines juxtapose the “innocent brightness of a new-born Day” with “The Clouds that gather round the setting sun,” while between these two images is the three word phrase “Is lovely yet” (195-197). Dawn symbolizes birth which is then characterized by “brightness,” and sunset symbolizes death which is characterized by “Clouds” that “take a sober colouring from an eye / That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality” (198-199). The promise of birth is overshadowed for the speaker by an awareness of ever-present mortality. It is for this reason that the “meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears;” the significance of mortality can be found even in a seemingly insignificant flower’s bloom (203-204). The speaker credits “the human heart by which we live” with the “tenderness,…joys, and fears” which enable us to see our own mortality in temporal nature (201-202).