My Heart Leaps Up: The Poem with Analysis and Meaning

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Wordsworth and his love for nature are well-known. The poet saw magnificence in the simplest of things. And his ability to present simple things in such a beautiful way made his poems enjoyable read. My Heart Leaps Up is one such poem that shows his love for the things in nature that we usually don’t give much thought to. 

Let’s look at the poem and see what makes this poem great. We present here the summary, analysis, significance, and all the poetic devices used in this poem. We shall also explain the meaning of the most popular line from this poem; The Child is father of the Man. 

Before we get into the poem, a little about William Wordsworth. Wordsworth is one of the most famous poets of all time and certainly the most famous poet from the Romanticism movement. Almost all of his poems speak his love for nature and its beauty. I think these lines introduce Wordsworth aptly;

If you want to experience nature’s beauty, go outside your house and talk a walk in the park or the woods. If you want to experience nature from inside your house, read Wordsworth’s poetry.

Wordsrum

My Heart Leaps Up

My heart leaps up when I behold 

   A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began; 

So is it now I am a man; 

So be it when I shall grow old, 

   Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

Summary and analysis

My Heart Leaps Up is a very short and simple poem. One would say that it is very unlike the works of Wordsworth because there is no heavy usage of metaphors, no grand rhetorics has been used. It is just Wordsworth telling what he feels like about nature and the influence it has over him, from childhood to death. 

The poem starts with the praise of the sight of a rainbow. Wordsworth says that his heart leaps up (which means that it is filled with joy and excitement) when he sees a rainbow. He felt the same when he saw the rainbow when he was a child and even when he has grown up to be a man, the familiar joy takes hold of his heart when he sees the rainbow. 

The next part of the poem is about the poet’s desire to have this same desire and love for the little things in nature. He says that he wants to be equally jovial at the sight of the rainbow when he grows old. He even goes as far as to say that he’d rather be dead than to lose the love and excitement he has for nature. For him, it is not worth living of it isn’t living in awe and love for nature. 

In the last two lines, he says that he wants to live his life in love with nature. He wants to have utter respect and love for nature. He uses the words “piety” in a religious sense. So his love for nature is not just any love, but the love one has for the creator, a religious love. He praises and loves nature as it deserves to be; as a creator. Nature is where we have come from and where we’ll go into. So the love for nature is the highest love for Wordsworth. 

My heart leaps up poem
My Heart Leaps Up by William Wordsworth. Poem in under the Public Domain in US and countries where Wordsrum operates

The Child is father of the Man

This line from the poem is perhaps the most famous part. So famous that many people think that that is the name of the poem. Many album names, quotes, etc have been taken from this particular line. But what does it mean? It means that whatever you are as a child, you’ll be that as a man too.

What is the role of a father in a person’s life? He is the first teacher and mentor. A father’s actions affect the child’s life in its entirety. The child grows to become the man as molded by his father. The same is true for your childhood. The experiences you have in those forming years will mold you into the man you’ll be in your later life. 

You cannot teach or affect your childhood, just like the future cannot affect the past. This is why the child is said to be the father of the man. And in this poem, it means that Wordsworth was profoundly attached to nature in his childhood and he will always be the same until his death.

Theme and literary devices

The theme of the poem is nature, growth, love, and life. The major theme is nature and our connection with it. The poem shows how few things such as the rainbow are often ignored by many because they are used to seeing it. It tells us about enjoying the intricacies of nature and never letting them go. We all enjoyed watching the rainbow or flowers when we were children, but then what happened? Why did we abandon this lesson from our childhood? This is what Wordsworth tries to convey through this poem.

Some literary devices used in this poem are:

Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of a particular vowel sound in a single line. Here are the lines where assonance is used;

So is it now I am a man; 

So be it when I shall grow old, 

Metaphor: Examples of metaphors here are; My heart leaps up to represent joy. The Child is father of the Man to represent the molding effects of childhood. Bound by natural piety refers to the love of nature.

Rhyme: The rhyming scheme of this poem is abc-cab-cdb taking the poem in tercet stanza form. 

Mood and style: The poem is written in an expository style in which the poet is directly conveying a few things about himself. The mood fluctuates from melancholy to hope. The poet feels good that he still gets excited when he sees nature and hopes that this stays the same till his death. 

This concludes this article. If this poem by William Wordsworth was interesting to you, you’d love to see more from him. Take a gander at these articles we’ve written with love that might interest you. Spend some more time with us? 

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