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.