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Splendour in the Grass -- William Wordsworth

Guest poem sent in by KassieB :
(Poem #1173) Splendour in the Grass
 What though the radiance
 which was once so bright
 Be now for ever taken from my sight,
 Though nothing can bring back the hour
 Of splendour in the grass,
 of glory in the flower,
 We will grieve not, rather find
 Strength in what remains behind;
 In the primal sympathy
 Which having been must ever be;
 In the soothing thoughts that spring
 Out of human suffering;
 In the faith that looks through death,
 In years that bring the philosophic mind.
-- William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth's 'Splendour in the Grass' is the poem we hear in the 1961
movie by the same name.  Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty starred and Wood was
nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Deanie, Beatty's girlfriend.

The poem is from Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early
Childhood, which begins with the majestic:

  There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
  The earth, and every common sight,
            To me did seem
        Apparelled in celestial light,
  The glory and the freshness of a dream.

The entire ode is well worth reading.

My first introduction to Splendour in the Grass was on a day when I was home
from school, sick with the flu. I passed the day watching movies on the
television. Though I was only about eleven or twelve years old, the poem
really resonated. And who can forget Natalie Wood struggling to read it in
her English class, then hearing her recite it again, this time much wiser,
at the end of the movie?

Kassie

349 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

«Oldest   ‹Older   1 – 200 of 349   Newer›   Newest»
Anustup Datta said...

The poem more or less summarises Wordsworth's poetic philosophy. He once
described poetry as "emotion recollected in tranquility" - his best poetry
has the poet-philosopher lying on his couch "in vacant or in pensive mood",
remembering a flash of beauty in Nature or Man. As his "inward eye"
diminished in power with age, his poetry too lost its power. Unlike other
poets - such as a Browning, for instance - his power of observation did not
mature with age, nor take on deeper and subtler overtones mellowed by
experience and understanding. Ultimately, the fount of stored memory and
captured emotion ran dry without anything to replenish it with. As a famous
critic observed, Wordsworth "lived on capital" - profligately.

I have always thought that Wordsworth at his best was the greatest poetic
Impressionist - his eye captures the fleeting moment in the same dazzling
interplay of light as Claude Monet's watercolours. And you know what Cezanne
said about Monet - "Only an eye, but my God what an eye!" Like Monet,
Wordsworth remained the truest to the absolute fidelity of emotional
impression.

Wordsworth himself realizes what he has lost through the passage of time,
and his reaffirmation of faith here sounds hollow and forced, as though he
were trying to convince himself that all is not gone. But try as he might, a
touch of nostalgia about the glory that was, of the splendours of the past,
creeps in. The grass remains splendid, but the keen-eyed young man who had
felt it earlier is no more.

Regards
Tups

John Horan said...

In 1961 when I first heard this poem in the movie Splendour in the Grass I did not realize how pervasive that opening stanza would be throughout my life. That I dwelt on just those words surrounding splendour and glory whenever a tragic moment visited, either for me or belonging to others, did not affect me to search out the remainder of the poem for more understanding. After remembering some of those moments I called to mind the line about "finding strength in what we leave behind"; forty-six years later I realize that it is not a strength you find but a signal to stop following your grief.
I just finished reading, for the first time, the entire poem. I am understanding what pursuing a graceful life has meant.

ANITA OCONNOR said...

I must have been watching at the same time as Kassie as her recollection mirrors mine identically. I remember so vividly Natalie Wood reading in the classroom - (I think) during the film and then struggling to read it again at the end It has always stuck in my mind and am glad to find out where it originated.
Many thanks

Kevin Straw said...

I dislike this poem. I simply do not believe any of it. As an atheist I like Donne's and Herbert's and Hopkins' religious poetry, I understand them, but I don't like this poem. I rather resent "We will not greave..." - a rather impertinent assumption that we all share these strange metaphysical beliefs. In fact, as a 64 year old I can vouchsafe that life becomes more wonderful than ever it was as a child - the focus changes from nursery lamp, to something that seems at time cosmologically illuminating - one looks at life good and bad and the sum of it is good.

Kevin Straw

Anonymous said...

the poem is called 536. Ode
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, not splendor in the grass

toni said...

Cool Poem.
i like it

Anonymous said...

JUST LOVE THIS POEM.

Anonymous said...

...In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering...At some point the pain leaves and we remember the good times; we cherish the memories and we grieve no more but we become stronger for the love we once shared through faith that we were, are blessed.

Tess said...

This is my favorite poem of all the ages. I don't think, for the most part, that many have actually grieved....I only thought I had grieved until I lost my soul mate; I now know what grief is, for the first time in my 55 years. I am still trying to find that strength that remains behind, I've not yet captured it, am only going through the motions of life; and it bores me.

Anonymous said...

Saw this movie in Iran in 1978 in a movie theatre in Tehran. Shortly after a theatre blew up in Abadon with 800 people in it. Due to a so called Holy revolution. My husband who is Iranian was a professionl soccer player at the time. Somehow, i always carried the fear of something like that happening to me. We were the only 2 people sitting in the theatre because people were afraid to go to the movies after the Abadon fire. My husband took me because I insisted on going to the movies. I don't know what I was thinking but I'm glad I did go. We should not live our lives in fear.

Anonymous said...

I am a writer although I write in a totally different field. I think this is one of the finest few lines in all of poetry.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the film again for the umpteenth time and still hope Bud and Neeny get together.

Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful poem.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it is a beautiful poem. I saw it again last night "for the first time" and I too, still hope that Bud and Deanie got together in time. It was particularly relevant to me because I was brought up on the same sexual mores that they were and could relate very strongly to what they were going through emotionally and physically. I finally married my sweetheart but we must have split up a half dozen times to keep from going all the way. That's what good girls and responsible boys did then--sometimes with disastrous results, like Deanie's.

Robert said...

I find this poem haunting! Had to look it up after recently seeing the film. Inge's use of this poem amazes me and supports the film beautifully. One of the most memorable movie scenes ever. Thank's to Natalie Wood as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, dear anonymous of August 10th, 2010, the same applies to me. I went the Deany way, when I was 17 -23, and restored myself after my mother had given my a chance to lead my own life, at University where I got to live in a studenthome. Suicide loomed nearby and I was so ashamed that I even considered it. I fought it for years, and it was awful.
I had no idea about sexuality, or what happens when it is completely ignored, and was sure something within myself was completely wrong, the more so as I could not see what that might be. That I did not understand was just the surest sign something was awfully wrong with me...

I saw the film while on vacation in Canada, when I was 31, and tears streamed - it was the first acknowledgment of the suffering that I knew so well.


How many more ??

Anonymous said...

Glorious poem....still appreciating the splendour in the grass when life a challenge, that's the key..don't give up. I too have felt like it, but nothing stays the same..change is the one constant in life...

Sue

Steve said...

I think the poem fits many a situation. Not simply the lost love of a young and naive youth but other aspects of life as it deals with love, life and country. Given the situation of our country today I find a deep comparison of that poem as it was interpreted in the movie.

Anonymous said...

Kassie thank you for sharing. I love the movie is it is one of my all time favorites. Unfortunately I can relate to the struggles with sexuality that Deannie went through...young love with restricted physical contact. Trying to grasp that love but nevr being successful. Years later, meeting her again feeling that love had changed...and relieve so I could go on with my life and enjoy the splendour of the present day. Those eyes of Natalie ...so deep, beautiful and mysterious, just like life.

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I saw this movie as a teenager, close to fifty years ago and a copy the poem hangs on the wall in my office today. Those words hit me like a ton of bricks when I first heard them. It is one of the most profound and extraordinary poem's that I have read. Still bring tears to my eyes for what could have been.

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Anonymous said...

Oh, how crippled I was with feelings that I didn't understand... until now, with aged heart and eyes I clearly see that the splendor is in surviving the hormonal rush of youth. But, oh my, what a rush it was.

JP said...

This is a very beautiful poem. The first time I read it I was captivated with the words. Driven by the time I first fell in love and had a devastating heart break. This poem enamored me and made me reminisce the past and what if's...

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I just heard this poem and I think it was God way of sending me a message. I just don't know if I can live past the grief. My precious daughter at 17 wrecked going to school. She had a brain injury and I stayed with her in hospitals for 18 months without her ever getting to come home. She died of a broken heart. Her father did not want us anymore. I met a man who gave me hope because he loved me for me. He died October 15,2011. I have grieved my child for 13 years and now he's gone and I miss him so very much I wonder why God leaves me here. Please pray for me and think of me when you read the poem. God bless each of you with your problems.

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Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

This past year, the woman that I loved more than life itself and with whom I believed to be my soulmate ended our relationship. Saying she needed space. We had no contact for 7 days and then she texted me to see how my week was.Certainly nothing I could explain in a follow up text. Heartbroken I called her and 2 hours later after we hung up I sat there barely able to breathe. A week had not made her feel any different, but she did ask if we could be friends. I said I couldn't do that, it would be too painful. Eventually I changed my mind and asked her to dinner. This past weekend we had our date and at some point during the meal it became obvious that the night would end with us in bed. As I lay next to her the following morning I knew that as wonderful as the last 20 hours had been, we would be going our separate ways in a few hours. All I wanted, and all I could think about was going back to the beginning or at least the night before, and then it hit me. My quote, that at the tender age of 18 I didn't fully even understand was so prophetic and been a source of such angst. Pretty heavy stuff from just a few lines of poetry huh?

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...
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This sadly was the poem read at Natalie Woods funeral. I watched a film on tv recently based on her life, and loved this poem, hearing it for the first time. It also was the reason they named the boat they owned (Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood)Splender, after the film Splender in the Grass. I visited the home of William Wordsworth a couple of years ago in the Lake District, having read most of his work during childhood in Australia. Now permanently based in the UK, the poem that moved me then was I wandered lonely as a cloud. I now have another favourite which I did not know was written by him. Lovely words. Many thanks, Lucia Braithwaite

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I watched the movie as a 12 yr old with my father. I was so profoundly struck by this poem and how Deanie read it class, and as she read, how the pain of love overwhelmed her. I was struck by the saddness of the entire sceen and never forgot it. When her voice repeated the poem at the end of the movie, I was struck again by the look on her face as she walked away...as if a quiet satisfaction took over her soul as she realized the a new door had opened in her life and she was moving on, a better person for having gone through the pain. I never forgot and always remembered the line "...though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass...", means to me that one must let go of the desire to bring back a beautiful moment because that moment is gone forever. I recently separated from my husband; it was very difficult to realize and accept that our marriage is over and nothing can bring back the moments that made me fall in love with him, but I walk away now knowing and accepting this. It is this poem that I have charished throughout the years that makes me walk like Deanie did that day with a realization that a door has closed but another has opened. Brings tears to my eyes really but I will find strength in what I leave behing. Sandra-Milwaukee

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One of my favorite movies of all times and I will never forget crying as Deanie tried to read in class and then again at the end after she had found her strength... I think this poem, esp. the last lines can give us all strength when relationships end, when people we love die, and at times like the 9/11 disaster... to remember the good times with those we love who didn't survive.. the "splendor in the grass" --Wife

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There is a poem by Juan Ramone Jimenez Titled "The Definitive Journey" that I think has a definite parallel to "Splendor in the Grass" in that as time passes everything changes but you will always look back wistfully and nostalgic at the people and places of days long since passed.

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