My Heart Leaps Up

Landscape with Rainbow. Robert S. Duncanson. 1859.


My Heart Leaps Up

William Wordsworth, 1802


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.


A Fine Picture—Robert S. Duncanson became the first African American artist to gain international reputation. He painted this idealized Ohio landscape shortly before the outbreak of the American Civil War.

A Little Poetry—Wordsworth wrote this poem on the night of March 26, 1802. The day after, he began writing his much longer and better-known Ode: Intimations of Immortality. The last three lines of this poem reappear as an epigraph to the Ode. After writing “My Heart Leaps Up,” Wordsworth often thought of altering the poem, but published it as originally written in 1807.

3 thoughts on “My Heart Leaps Up”

  1. This is one of my favorite Wordsworth poems, second only to “Daffodils”! I am pleased to hear of an African American painter; I had never discovered one before, at least not one from such a classical era. It is a beautiful painting with a hint of a fairy-tale air to it.

    1. Although Duncanson was the first to earn his living by painting, he was preceded by a number of well-known African-American artists. If you are interested, look up Joshua Johnson, Otto Reinhold Jacobi, Patrick Reason, and William H. Simpson.

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