“Ode: Intiminations of Immortality”

  1. In the opening stanzas, how does the poet describe the outer world?
  2. Why is he not as joyful as animals and children seem to be?
  3. What is an “ode”? Is it a suitable form for the poet’s ideas?
  4. What theory about human origins does the poet express in stanza 5? What seems to happen to adults? What are some of the features of adult life? (stanzas 6-8) Why does he feel a sense of profound loss?
  5. What are the “questionings” for which the poet gives thanks? (st. 10) What are the implications of his claim that “in a season of calm weather” our souls “have sight of that immortal sea/Which brought us hither”?
  6. In stanza 11, deprived of “splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower,” in what does the poet take comfort?
  7. How has his view of nature been affected by the loss of his original sense of oneness? (stanza 12) What kind of thoughts now seem associated with his view of “the meanest flower that blows?
  8. Is this a sad poem? Is it appropriate that it ends with the words, “Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears”?
  9. Does the poem develop a sequence of thoughts? How are the views expressed similar to/different from those in “Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey”?
  10. Are the poem’s language and images appropriate for its meaning?

The Prelude, Book I

  1. What is the poet’s mood in the opening section? (ll. 1-54) Which aspects of nature especially please him?
  2. What hopes does the poet feel (ll. 60ff) and what seems to happen to these earliest poetic hopes? (ll. 104ff.) How does he decide to occupy himself in the meantime? What ambition does he frame, and what themes does he consider for his highest effort? What is his “last and favorite aspiration”? (ll. 228ff) What seems to prevent his accomplishment? (ll. 263ff)
  3. While waiting for inspiration, what memories remind him of his favored origins? (ll. 272ff) How has nature fostered him alike “by beauty and by fear”?
  4. What seems to be the importance of the boat scene? What had happened when he mounted the crag to steal birds’ eggs? What seems important about his memories of ice skating? Of playing board games (tic tac toe and chess)?
  5. What is the significance of his perception of natural phenomena? (ll. 588ff) Which scenes seem most attractive or mysterious to him? How are these outer scenes linked to his emotions? (ll. 630ff)
  6. What seems so unusual about the poet’s theme that he feels the need to apologize? (ll. 668ff) What is the purpose of his closing appeal to his Friend (Coleridge)?
  7. After reading the title and book I, what do you expect will be the theme of the rest of the epic? At the time, was this an unusual theme for a long poem? Why might readers or critics have been surprised or disapproving?