Table of Contents
Unit-2: Men, Women and Children
Chapter-1: My Heart Leaps Up When I Beloved [William Wordsworth]
In the poem ‘My heart leaps up when I behold’, William Wordsworth recollects his childhood experience and tries to give his emotion and feeling a meaning. He praises the beauty of nature and wants to die with the glory of nature. For him, human life is very short and mortal but natural beauty is immortal. Poet says that his heart starts to dance when he sees a rainbow in the sky. Rainbow was there when the poet was a child and now the poet is a grown-up man and rainbow is still there in the sky. Poet will grow old and die but the rainbow will remain fresh forever. The poet wishes his days to be filled with natural beauty and its glory.
Wordsworth says that ‘the child is the father of man’ because everything is the outcome of the past. Manhood begins with childhood. Childhood comes first, so it is the foundation for manhood. The present condition of manhood is the result of childhood, the past. For the poet, childhood is the source of literacy creation. William Wordsworth is a lover of nature. For his human pleasure is gained only through nature. In this poem, He shows the endless process of nature as the rainbow was there in the past, is at present and will be in the future. The rainbow symbolizes purity and immortality of nature. It is also the symbol of the continuation of nature and life. Like rainbow human life is colorful, but it is momentary.
Short Answer Questions
1. Explain the paradox in “The Child is Father of the Man”.
There is a paradox in the statement “The child is father of the Man”. A paradox is a statement seemingly absurd but holds deeper truth to its closer analysis. Seemingly the statement sounds absurd or meaningless as the child biologically can never be the father of the man. But if the line is interpreted closely we get the meaning. The father here doesn’t refer to a biological father. He refers to a beginner or originator. Once we take the word father for the originator, then the line reads as the child is the beginner of the man’s life. So this is the paradox in the statement. What it appears to be is not what it intends to say. It says the child is man’s father but wants to say the child is the source of our life. Every man’s life begins from his childhood.
Thus, childhood is the past of our manhood, our present. In other words, the present (manhood) is the outcome of our past (Childhood) and naturally, the Future will be the outcome of our present. Thus yesterday’s child is today’s man and today’s man is tomorrow’s man. If we analyze the statement in this way we find all the contradictions that lie in this line vanish and we get content as the truth prevails. Simply put, the poet does not mean that a child can biologically produce a grown-up man by the above statement. But he expresses his opinion about the natural growth of a human being in which a child always develops into a man. A man can never transform into a child, the child possesses a seed-like quality a seed develops into an autonomous tree and bears flowers and fruit according to the seed similarly the man also inherits all the characteristics from its childhood a kind child manifests cruelty in its manhood. This is the paradox that lies in the statement.
2. What is the main theme of the poem “My Heart Leaps up When I Behold”?
“My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold” is a poem by the British Romantic Poet William Wordsworth. Noted for its simplicity of structure and language, it describes the joy that he feels when he sees a rainbow and notes that he has felt this way since his childhood. He concludes the poem by noting how his childhood has shaped his current views and stating that “the child is the father of the man”. The poem is based on the recollection of the poet’s childhood experiences and feelings that bear continuity. The poem also deals with the spontaneous overflow of those powerful feelings and joys as felt by the heart of the poet in his childhood and manhood at the sight of a rainbow in the sky which the poet hopes to feel in his old age. The poet describes the influence of a rainbow upon his heart. According to his words, he feels the same joy and happiness when he was a child and he does feel the same experience in his old age. In the absence of such feelings, the poet admits he will prefer death as a better alternative. The poem ends with the wish of the poet for his days to be bound with each other by natural piety. In this sense, the poem is about the strong tie between human beings and nature. Nature has become a source of survival. Thus the poem concentrates on the poet’s deep love for nature, on the one hand, his love for his past, his childhood on the other.
3. “The child is father of the man”. Do you agree with this statement? Give reasons.
The statement “The Child is Father of the Man” is a famous line from William Wordsworth’s poem “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”. Wordsworth, a Romanticist, finds the image of God both in nature and the child. In the statement, though paradoxical, he highlights the power of a child. Therefore agree not with the surficial meaning as the child is the father of the man but with the deep meaning. I agree with what the poet intends to say. He wants to say that the child is father of the man’s life. He doesn’t mean that the child is the father of the man biologically rather wants to say everything begins from our childhood. It is so crucial phase that we are the outcome of the same childhood of yesterday and our tomorrow will naturally be the outcome of our present. In other words, I agree with this statement as the poet means to say that human life begins from childhood. A man can’t be a father without being a child. According to the poet, father means from whom the creation of a new generation takes place. It is the child from whom the manhood begins. Thus the child is really the father of the man. Yesterday’s child is today’s man (father) and today’s child is tomorrow’s father. To put it slightly differently, it implies that as a child for the first time he felt the joy while looking at nature in the form of a rainbow and every child does have some kind of experience before he attains manhood. In this regard, he is senior to a man and therefore the father of the man.
Long Answer Questions
Summarise the poem “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”.
Refer to the above summary