The ode is a is a type of lyrical stanza. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually as well as emotionally. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist.The Immortality Ode , a poem by William Wordsworth , or it is also known as “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, is 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 poem is an irregular Pindaric ode in 11 stanzas.Wordsworth thought of the ode as difficult that in requires the need for competence and attention in the reader. Yet , its difficulty is not in the diction , which is simple, or the syntax, which is in certain parts is obscure, but the difficulty lies in specific contradictory statements which the poem makes, beside the ambiguity of some of its critical words.
Poetry is made by means of particular poetic faculty, a faculty which maybe isolated and defined , it is not difficult to grasp the processes that are hidden beneath what is said about poetry. But to speak about Wordsworth, one of the commonest of our unexpressed ideas comes so close to the surface of our thought that it needs only to be grasped and named.
An assumption at work in the common biographical interpretation of the Ode ,this is the belief that the natural and the predictable conflict exist between the poetic ability and the ability by which we conceive or comprehend general ideas. Wordsworth himself didn’t believe this antagonism , held an almost contrary view.It is observed that there is in the Ode a contrast drawn between something called the visionary gleam and something called the philosophic mind’, some critics leap to the conclusion that the Ode is wordsworth’s conscious farewell to his art , a dirge sung over departing powers.
Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimation of Immortality is a spiritual quest par excellence. The setting of this poem conjures up the world as it can be not as it is and above all addresses the idea rather than the thing since idealism is the core of Romanticism. One of the images evoked in Wordsworth’s Ode is the quintessential child whose evocation in the poem changes the quality and the state of the journey. Unlike the common but wrong belief, childhood is not idealized nor is it the destination or the telos of the quest; rather, childhood imagery creates epiphany and awakening(Coleridge,1981)To understand any part of the poem , there is a need to understand it as a whole. It is a poem about growing , growing up and growing old, it is a poem about optics and then, about epistemology , this means that it is concerned with ways of seeing first and then ways of knowing. The poem imply bot power and liberty , with a limited sense of about immortality .
The poem is devided into two essential parts. The first part contains four stanzas that shows an optical phenomena and ask a question about it. The second part, contains seven stanzas, answers that question , beside that it itself divided into two parts, which are desperate and hopeful. The question which the first part asks is Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?The whole first part is going through this question , but even if takes one direction , it passes through more than one mood , at least three moods before the climax of the question reached. There was time when all common things seemed clothed in’ celestial light’ when they had the glory and the freshness of the dream. The word celestial’ needs a concetration to interpret its signification , it might means only something different from earthly , ordinary, scientific light ;it is the light of the mind shining even in the darkness, by night or day. The second stanza is a development for the mood in the first stanza , it speaks of the ordinary , physical kind of vision and suggesting further the meaning of celestial. In this part , Wordsworth is far from noticing a reduction of his physical senses that he explicitly affirms their strength.
The poet of the Ode is by no means a common man speaking to common men, as Wordsworth defines him in the Preface; by contrast, he is difficult and Shakespearian, which is proper to the seriousness of his discourse. The Ode”despite its length and Cowleyan structure”falls into three parts that more or less conform to the strophe, antistrophe, and epode of the traditional Pindaric ode. The difference being that this triad is to be traced in the various discourses raised in the Ode rather than in its stanzas and structure. This is in line with Coleridge’s definition of the organic unity in poetry which must be embodied in the meaning of the poem, not in predetermined stanzaic forms, to create transition between no matter how many discourses of a poem.
The meticulous choice of pronouns in the Ode is in harmony with this triad as well: The first four stanzas, which were written at the first sitting of the composition of the Ode, are distinguished from the rest of the poem by the poet’s lyrical expressions of nostalgia about a different past: There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight, To me did seem Apparelled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it hath 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 I of the first four stanzas is nostalgic about the sensual joys of childhood. The second stanza, above all, speaks of the physical, ordinary vision of children which can easily misguide the reader into believing the poet is urging, above all, a return to the strength of his younger years, given the fact that Wordsworth was suffering from a severe decline in his eyesight.
A simplistic and superficial perusal, decontextualizing the Ode from its wholeness and detracting from its value, can find the answer to the central question of the Ode in childhood and assume childhood to be the lost gleam, glory, and the dream the poet is after: Wither is fled the visionary gleam? / Where is it now, the glory and the dream? This reading can be all the more justified, though wrongly, in the light of Neo-Platonic veins discernable throughout the Ode in particular in the epitaph: The child is father of the man. However, Wordsworth, like most Romantics, displays an infinite number of images and discourses in the liberty of his poetic license to reinforce an elemental condition, and not all these references, among them a nostalgia about childhood, must be taken literally.
Wordsworth adapted to his purposes myths, fables, and anecdotes which he did not necessarily believe in to help clarify his argument. For instance, he alluded to Plato’s argument for the prenatal existence of the soul simply as an imaginative effect not because he really thought humans experience another Ideal life before their corporeal birth. In the same breath, degrading the Ode to a nostalgia about the unrecoverable condition of childhood runs counter to the discourses of the Ode in its entirety and renders the Romantic nostalgia vulgar (O.Lovejoy,1975:p.19).
The sublimity of poetry stands comparison with the sublimity of a forest. We never censure a forest because one qualitative component, say a flower, is missing. Since sublimity of a poem is measured by its qualitative perfection, can we make the case that the Ode lacks in perfection because it does not show the final telos of its quest, or that it simply defers the telos outside the confines of the poems. The sight of that immortal sea can be only glimpsed on the seashore can be shown later on by the Child on top of the tree. In fact, since this lack is in line with the sense of this poem, which is the impossibility of fully articulating or reaching a desire (because the desire doesn’t have an object in the first place and its object is beyond the given reality), this lack is not only accepted but also justified and pertinent .