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My Heart leaps up

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My Heart leaps up

"My heart leaps up" is one of Wordsworth's most popular poems written in 1802.

This poem is composed by nine lines which flow charmingly and appear profound, but which embody ideas that are simple - some might even say too simple.

This lines, moving from an ordinary incident, the sight of a rainbow, contain a reflection on how childhood experiences influence adult life.

The most famous line in the poem, "The child is father of the man", means that just as a boy may inherit his father's characteristics, so too does a growing man have the potential to retain and develop the characteristics he showed as a child. The particular characteristic that Wordsworth focuses on in the poem is "natural piety".  

I don't read "natural" as referring to "Nature". I think it means the kind of instinctive (i.e. untaught) attitude that a child has, ed with the more artificial piety that can be the product of religious instruction. Wordsworth treats a child's natural feelings of wonder, joy and awe at the sight of beautiful things as a manifestation of piety in the sense of reverence for God's creations.  

The example Wordsworth gives of such natural piety is his exhilaration at the sight of a rainbow. He says that this remains as strong for him as a grown man as when he was an infant, and he wants that to continue into his old age. Otherwise he would rather die.

According to the Bible, Genesis 9: 8-l7, the rainbow is to be taken as the sign of God's covenant with all creatures on the earth. Perhaps Wordsworth meant "natural piety" as a contrast between religious piety based on having been tutored in these scriptures and a child's inborn sense of wonder at such a spectacular sight in the heavens. 


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