The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star (from Ode. Intimations of Immortality)

by William Wordsworth


Original Language English

The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
     Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
     Not in entire forgetfulness,
     And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
     From God, who is our home.

-- from Complete Poetical Works, by William Wordsworth

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This is one of the few poetic utterances that makes me instantly respond with the word -- gorgeous! Other poems may be uplifting or inspire deep thought or simply offer up a delightful confection of words and images. But these few lines by Wordsworth are all of these things, yet it all somehow comes together in a way that causes one to take a deep breath and expand.

Sometimes I read these words and think the image and language are almost overripe, but, no, not quite. It holds. And then I am carried away by it again.

Its first few lines distill the soul's feelings of loneliness and vulnerability, that feeling that something important in one's very being has been hidden from memory, and gently negates it--

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness


Then we get their answer in those final lush lines--

But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.


And we again know our home. We find ourselves at rest, our full memory of self restored, while clouds of glory trail from our shoulders. Gorgeous.



Recommended Books: William Wordsworth

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology)
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Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty
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The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse
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Complete Poetical Works
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William Wordsworth: Selected Poems
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The Soul that rises