Poetry Study Aid- Ode to Duty Wordsworth Part One

Posted on: January 10, 2010

Ode to Duty

William Wordsworth
Wordsworth wrote the poem Ode to Duty at a time of intense mental strife when his morale was at low point. As the vigour and confidence of youth was draining out, he attempted to restore his moral confidence through the writing of the poem.

He personifies Duty throughout the poem and Duty is almost a metaphor for God or God’s Will. He addresses duty as the austere and rigorous daughter of the Voice of God. The he says that he calls her Duty because he believes that Duty like her name and its connotations.
Duty or a sense of Duty is the guiding light which helps an individual to find his right way in the moral desolation of this world. Moreover, Duty is a truncheon- a corrective rod– a remedial determinant that prevents everyone from making mistakes and keeps them from straying into evil ways.
Duty facilitates the humanity to prevail over those unfounded fears, which their imagination conjures up. Further, Duty provides the ethical edict all of us ought to abide by in our life. A sense of duty is a safeguard against all kinds of enticements. With Duty to guide us, peace will descend on our minds, carrying us through the ordeal of having to approximate the rights and wrongs of our concerns.
Then, the poet discusses a particular group of human beings. There are some people who are by nature good. They will carry out the bidding of Duty without waiting for her demanding glance to fall on them. Their sense of duty is instinctual. With the life principle of love and truthfulness and without any misgivings about the correctness of what they are doing, they put their trust on those urges which are innate to genial youthfulness. Consequently, they relish felicity in their life. This unconscious obeisance to Duty keeps them above reprimand or incrimination. However, in the unlikely circumstance of these people failing through mislaid confidence (that is if their virtuous inherent aptitude does not lead them among the right way of life), Wordsworth appeals to Duty, come to their redemption with her redeeming hands. In other words, Duty should go to the service of those people who are naturally good and who may incidentally go amiss.

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