“My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold” by William Wordsworth


My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So it was 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 wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

This is a poem about how our experiences as children affect who we become as adults. Wordsworth begins by expressing his joy and excitement upon seeing a rainbow. He then states that he had the same feelings as a child, as an adult, and that he expects the same feelings when he gets old. He essentially establishes a connection between his past, present, and future. He also strongly asserts that when he reaches the point where he is no longer enthralled by the sight of a rainbow, which is a symbol for the beauty of Nature, then it is time for him to die.

When Wordsworth writes “The Child is father of the Man;” he is stating that his reverence for Nature is something that he learned as a child. His thoughts and feelings that he had as a child are what created the man he became. Likewise, those childhood impressions would continue to influence his life as he enters old age.

For Wordsworth, all his days are “bound each to each.” There is a natural connection between who he was, who he is, and who he will become, and it all grows from the seeds of wonder that were planted within him as a child.


Filed under Literature

4 responses to ““My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold” by William Wordsworth

  1. Amazing!!!… By the way I could see some Daffodils ressemblances over here”… http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174790
    Very touching poem and a great analysis on it dear Jeff… Thanks for sharing… A real joy to read!. Best regards! Aquileana 😀

    • The English romantics were lovers of Nature. When I visited England some years back, I went to the Lake District and visited Wordsworth’s cottage. It was so beautiful up there, it explains why he was such a worshipper of Nature.

      Thanks for the link to the daffodil poem. I suspect I may be reviewing that one soon 🙂


  2. Alex Hurst

    I really want to get more into poetry… I like it when it is curated, and people present it to me… but for some reason, whenever I try and look it up on my own, I don’t find poetry nearly as stimulating.

    Great choice. 🙂

    • Hi Alex. So here are a couple suggestions for approaching poetry. Look for symbols and metaphors. Remember, they can often be interpreted in many ways, and there is no right or wrong, just how it relates to you. Poetry is intended to be read aloud, so try that, or go to a slam where people read poetry aloud. Finally, just have fun with it. The joy is in the journey and the discovery.

      I’ll suggest two poems which were ones that got me interested in poetry. Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe and Ozymandius by Percy Shelley. Check them out, then let me know what you think.