The Rainbow My Heart Leaps Up – Introduction to Literature

The Rainbow 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.

Author William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850

Born in England in 1770, poet William Wordsworth worked with Samuel Taylor Coleridge on
Lyrical Ballads (1798). The collection, which contained Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,”
introduced Romanticism to English poetry. Wordsworth also showed his affinity for nature
with the famous poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” He became England’s poet laureate in
1843, a role he held until his death in 1850.

As he grew older, Wordsworth began to reject radicalism. In 1813, he was named as a
distributor of stamps and moved his family to a new home in the Lake District. By 1818,
Wordsworth was an ardent supporter of the conservative Tories.

Though Wordsworth continued to produce poetry—including moving work that mourned the
deaths of two of his children in 1812—he had reached a zenith of creativity between 1798 and
1808. It was this early work that cemented his reputation as an acclaimed literary figure.
In 1843, Wordsworth became England’s poet laureate, a position he held for the rest of his life.
At the age of 80, he died on April 23, 1850, at his home in Rydal Mount, Westmorland,

In this very short poem consisting of only 9 lines, the speaker begins by declaring that he is
moved by nature, and especially by nature’s beauty: “My heart leaps up when I behold / A
Rainbow in the sky.” He goes on to say that he has always felt the impact of nature, even when
he was an infant: “So was it when my life began; / So is it now I am a man.” The speaker is so
certain of his connection with nature that he says it will be constant until he becomes an old
man, or else he would rather die: “So be it when I shall grow old, / Or let me die!”

In the next line he declares that children are superior to men because of their proximity to nature: “The
Child is father of the Man.” For this reason, he wishes to bind himself to his childhood self:
“And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety.”
 New Vocabulary •Leaps up: jumps• Behold: look at , see ,watch •Rainbow: the arch of
colour that appears in the sky when it is raining & the sun is shining.•Bound: attached , linked
to , connected to •Piety: feeling of a deep respect for God & religion.


The poet tells us that he feels a wave of happiness sweeps over his heart ,melts it with joy,
when he saw a rainbow . That was the way he felt when he was a little boy ,now as an adult,
hoping that he’ll feel the same way when he is getting older, & if this feeling faded away even
for one day, he would rather die .In line 7 the poet comes up with his philosophy of life which
is that childhood is the main stage of our life , the child is the first master & instructor of a

Literary Terms

• Personification: “My heart leaps up”The poet’s heart jumps when he sees a rainbow.
• Paradox: “the Child is a father of the Man” The poet uses a statement which seems to hold
opposite meaning, yet turns out to have a reasonable & sensible aim.
• Repetition: “So was it when my life began, So is it now I a man, So be it when I shall grow
old,”The word “so” is repeated three times.

”. How does the poem express the poet’s feeling?-He is lighthearted, connecting to his God &
religion , respecting them. He is a loving person, the nature touches his heart that the sight of
a rainbow makes his heart happy. He is such a thoughtful person, in line 7 when he told us
about that child inside each one of us is the first teacher. And one more thing to add , he is a
very religious person, dreaming that the rest of his life will be attached to his God with piety
in his heart.

The child is a father of the Man’
-He believes that every human being is influenced by his childhood and that child is Man’s
first teacher &instructor.


“My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”is a poem written by a famous nature poet William
Wordsworth. In this poem, the poet recollects/remembers an experience of his childhood days
and gives his emotion and feelings a meaning. The poet also expresses his love towards nature.
He feels great joy when he sees a rainbow in the sky. He used to enjoy a lot when he saw the
rainbow in the sky in his childhood. He hopes he will still get pleasure at seeing the rainbow
when he becomes old and if such feeling stops in the future he wishes to die.

According to the poet, child is the father of man because childhood is the beginning
of the manhood. In other words, the qualities of the grown up men are all derived from
childhood. At last, the poet wishes that his remaining days would be bound by his love to

A paradox is a statement containing opposite ideas that make it unlikely although it
may be true. The above statement is paradoxical in the sense that it contains opposite ideas for
normal people. The child cannot be the father; he is the man who can be the father. But, the
poet through his statement “The Child is the Father of the Man”,wants to say that childhood
is the beginning of manhood. The thing we do and feel as children affect the way we feel when
we are adults. The poet also wants to say that the present is the result of past.


Written on March 26, 1802 and published in 1807 as an epigraph to “Ode: Intimations of
Immortality,” this poem addresses the same themes found in “Tintern Abbey” and “Ode;
Intimations of Immortality,” albeit in a much more concise way. The speaker explains his
connection to nature, stating that it has been strong throughout his life. He even goes so far as
to say that if he ever loses his connection he would prefer to die.

The seventh line of the poem is the key line: “The Child is father of the Man.” This line is often
quoted because of its ability to express a complicated idea in so few words. The speaker
believes (as explained in more detail in “Tintern Abbey”) that children are closer to heaven and
God, and through God, nature, because they have recently come from the arms of God. The
speaker understands the importance of staying connected to one’s own childhood, stating: “I
could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety.

”Wordsworth chooses the word “piety” to express the bond he wishes to attain (and maintain)
with his childhood self, because it best emphasizes the importance of the bond. His readers
would have been accustomed to the idea of piety in the religious sense, and would thus have
been able to translate the meaning behind the word to an understanding of the power of the
bond Wordsworth hopes to attain.

The format of “My heart leaps up when I behold” gives the poem a somewhat staccato feeling
and forces the reader to pause at important points in the poem. For instance, the two short lines
of the poem are both quite significant. First, “A rainbow in the sky” harkens back to God’s
promise to Noah signifying their bond, and foreshadows the speaker’s wish to be “Bound…by
natural piety.” The sixth line, “Or let me die!” shows the strength of the speaker’s convictions.


Explain the paradox in “The child is the father of the man”.
A paradox is a statement that seems to be absurd on contradictory but is or may be true.
Generally we think the man is the father of the child because father is the source from which
something originates. We know that the role of man is instrumental behind the birth of the
child. A child can never produce a man, therefore the statement; “the child is the father of the
man” is a paradoxical.

However the poet does not mean that a child can biologically produce a grown up man by the
above statement he has expressed his opinion about the natural growth of a human being in
which a child always develops into man. A man can never transform into child, child posses a
seed like quality a seed develops into an autonomous tree and bears flowers and a fruit
according to the seed similarly the man also inherits all the characteristics from its childhood a
kind child manifests cruelty in its manhood. Thus, it can be said that “the child is the father of
the man”.

The statement also means present is the outcome of past the statement assured the poet about
the continuity of the time and natural beauty. According to which if the rainbow is as beautiful
as it was in the past, it will certainly remain equally beautiful in future too.