William Wordsworth’s attitude towards Nature and his philosophy in his poem “Immortality Ode”

Love for Nature was the guiding principle of William Wordsworth’s life and persisted in him even in his old age. This love for Nature also constitutes the essence of his poetic creed and a primal matter in his poetry. This is clearly expressed in all his great poems, including his great “Immortality Ode.”

In fact, Wordsworth is one of the most loving and thoughtful English lyrical poets of Nature. He conceives of Nature as living and dynamic, with a soul and a motion. In Lines Written in Early Spring, thus, he expresses this belief unequivocally-

And its my faith that every flower
Enjoy the air it breathes.

Of course, this is equally struck in Tintern Abbey and Prelude, the two outstanding works on Nature from him which, of course, is no popular nature-poem.

In Immortality Ode, an emphasis is laid on man’s spiritual vision as the intuitive faculty of childhood. The memories of the pre-existent state of the soul in heaven is presented here to have a profound effect on man’s moral and intellectual growth. The poet gives a prophetic expression to this effect through the childhood’s splendid vision of natural elements.

The earth and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

Wordsworth’s poetry bears out his impression of the sights and sounds of Nature, around him, and the peculiar effect of such impressions is that they are presented as lasting, enduring on man, even when he is separated from his early surroundings by a long stretch of time and space-

These beauteous forms
Through a long absence, have not been to me.
As is a landscape to a blind man’s eye.

In fact, the poet in Wordsworth is found deeply affected and touched by all the forms and colours, the sights and sounds in Nature. Amid the din and bustle of the crowded, noisy city life, his mind seems to crave for the quiet environment of Nature, far away from towns and cities. This love for the quietude Nature is heard in his poetry time and again. What is, however, distinctly brought out is that the poet’s mental worries and vexations, anxieties, and uncertainties, are all tranquilized by the recollection and contemplation of the calmer scenes of peace and beauty in Nature. This has for the poet a restorative influence and it influences him spiritually, and this is echoed in the Ode.

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Indeed, the poet gains a spiritual insight into “the life of things,” and thereby establishes what may be called his pantheistic creed. But this conception of an impersonal deity immanent in Nature is not the final statement of the poet’s philosophy. He finally conceives of a personal deity that is both immanent and transcendent in and through all things. This is clearly stated in The Immortality Ode which represents a significant stage- childhood-in the development of Wordsworth’s philosophic creed of spiritual enlightenment.

Nature remains dear to the poet in all phases of life. All her common objects-her little sights and sounds-appear ‘apparelled in celestial light’ in childhood. But this visionary gleam of childhood passes away, as man grows old. Nevertheless the glorious vision of childhood in the world of Nature does not altogether melt away in manhood. Youth, though moves away from childhood, remains yet “Nature’s priest,” and in manhood, Nature remains still lovely and joyous. The Ode, indeed, powerfully reveals Wordsworth’s robust belief in the kinship between man and Nature at all times. It shows his faith that even the humblest elements of Nature have new and nobler thoughts for man :

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Here Nature, even in her very trivial form remains man’s prime teacher to second soundly the poetic assertion-

Let Nature be your teacher

Romanticism belongs as much to Nature as to Man. It marks a return to Nature as also a compassionate elevation of man’s primal instinct. In this respect, Immortality Ode stands out as a finished instance of Romanticism. It celebrates Nature and Man equally and harmonizes the existence of both as complementary to each other.

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