Splendour in the Grass Poem by William Wordsworth Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


Splendour in the Grass is the name attributed to the excerpt written by William Wordsworth. This excerpt appears in Wordsworth famous work  Ode:Imitations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, published in 1807 in his work Poems, in Two Volumes. This extract is actually the last twelve lines of the tenth stanza. Along with this section, the rest of the stanzas in the Wordsworth’s poem highlight themes such as death, loss of youth and innocence, nature, divinity, etc. In this excerpt, the speaker reflects on change and its inevitable nature. Rather than focusing on all that has been lost, the speaker emphasises on searching for strength amongst whatever has remained. 

About the Author 

Born on 7th April, 1770, in the Lake District of England, William Wordsworth was one of the more notable figures in the Romantic literary movement. He along with his close friend and poet, Samuel Taylor Colridge, played a pivotal role in shaping the Romantic literary landscape. Wordsworth essentially shaped Romantic poetry with his literary works that highlighted themes such as the natural landscape, personal experiences and emotions. One of his most famous works is Lyrical (1800), a collection of poems co-authored with Coleridge, which marked the beginning of the Romantic movement in English literature. Some of his notable words are The Prelude (1850), Lines Composed A Few Miles above Tintern Abbey (1798) and Daffodils (1807), amongst others.  Wordsworth was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1843 until his death in 1850.


The excerpt consists of 12 lines which are written in the form of a single stanza. The excerpt can be categorised under lyric poetry as it expresses the speaker’s emotions. 

Lines 1- 2

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now for ever taken from my sight,


The speaker begins by talking about the radiance or beauty that existed in the past. This radiance used to shine so bright but sadly, it is taken away from the speaker’s sight and it no longer exists. 


These lines refer to the transient form of beauty that leaves a person all too early. Like other people, the speaker also feels dissatisfied and mournful towards the loss of something he cherished and treasured dearly. 

Lines 3-4

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;


The speaker sadly admits that no matter what, he cannot go back and witness that beautiful moment once aagain. The beauty, which is referred by the speaker as the “splendour in the grass” and the “glory in the flower” is forever gone.


Through these lines, the speaker tells how change is the only constant. The splendour in the grass, that holds great value in the speaker’s life is short-lived and thus, cannot be accessed again. Here, the speaker has used natural imagery in order to depict the beautiful moments that exist in everyone’s lives. 

Lines 5-8

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind;

In the primal sympathy

Which having been must ever be;


The speaker, instead of succumbing to sorrow and grief, aims to find strength is whatever is left behind. The speaker refers to the “primal” sympathy which persists with one’s existence and wishes to draw strength from it. 


Here, the speaker imparts words of wisedom. According to the speaker, rather than regretting the loss of happiness and beauty, one should look towards the things that they own and seek comfort from it. Here, the speaker refers to something called “primal sympathy” that exists as a fundamental connection amongst all humans

Lines 9-12

In the soothing thoughts that spring

Out of human suffering;

In the faith that looks through death,

In years that bring the philosophic mind.


The speaker talks about the soothing thoughts that spring out of human suffering, which exist in every human. The speaker refers to the human faith that has the potential to transcend death and the wisedom that one develops over the years. All these devices provide the speaker with a means of comfort to move on from the beautiful moments that he has lost. 


The speaker further refers to the fundamental beliefs that exist in each and every human mind. These beliefs, are transcendental and persist through challenges, and even death. Lastly, the speaker also refers to the self-growth that a person goes through as they grow older. Over the years, a person gains more wisdom that assists them to cope with the loss of their treasured memories.