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.