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; 4
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 8
Bound each to each by natural piety.

[The following link contains general instructions.]

1. Explain the rhyme scheme of this poem.

2. In the poem Wordsworth employs three metrical patterns. Give these.

3. Under what circumstances, says Wordsworth, would he wish for his own death?

4. The poem considers a human life as being made up of three phases, namely

5. What is the significance of the shift in tense in lines three to five?

6. Why for Wordsworth is childhood the most important time of one's life?

7. How does the poet's response to the rainbow unify the poem?

8. Explain the paradox of line 7.

9. Explain the meaning of the phrase "natural piety" (line 9).

10. For general discussion: note the effect of the parallelism in lines 3 through 5.

Last modified: 24 June 2003