Splendor in the Grass

Splendor in the Grass

I originally wrote this post for a blog linkup at The Loft.
The assignment was a picture prompt; we were to write about what this picture reminded us of:

picture prompt haybales


Splendor in the Grass

Oh my! Immediately this picture brings to mind one of my favorite poems. It’s by William Wordsworth and is a rather long poem entitled “Ode to Intimations of Immortality.”

There is a famous shorter passage within the ode which inspired the movie “Splendor in the Grass” with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Here is the “Splendor in the Grass” section of the poem:


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 splendor 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.


This is where editors and printers usually stop the poem, but I don’t think that “philosophic mind” ending does it justice, especially when you read the beginning of the next part, which goes like this:


And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish’d one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.


(There is more, and if you’re motivated to read all of it, a quick Google search will bring it to you.)


The poem celebrates the feelings of a tender-hearted young person in love with nature and with life.


At the same time, the young have mixed emotions over a loss of innocence and the knowledge that their former childish delight in nature was rooted in the innocence of childhood. As the child enters adulthood, she begins to comprehend mortality, and her carefree enjoyment of nature will never be the same again.

The child’s exuberance for life slowly shifts to sadness as the harsh reality of inevitable death, grief, and loss enters the young person’s awareness, and “nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower.”

But wait!

The poem tells us not to grieve, for there is a faith that looks through death and finds the strength to remain faithful and mindful of what still remains with you, a “radiance” that will always reside within you. The people and places that were delightful to you in your childhood still reside within you! And you are stronger for having experienced the realities of suffering, pain, loss, and grief.



For the Christian, the plot thickens, the meaning deepens, and we are reminded of scripture passages that leave Wordsworth in nature’s dust and in the closed covers of the poetry book on the shelf as we turn to the timeless and eternal truths of God’s Word in the Old Testament:



Isaiah 40:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.

And this is repeated in the New Testament!


1 Peter 1:23-25New International Version (NIV)

23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

24 For all people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.


The translation in the Wycliffe Bible brings us back to our picture, as it puts it this way:


24 For each flesh is hay, and all the glory of it is as the flower of hay; the hay dried up, and his flower felled down.


I think the picture prompt of the hay bales is stunningly beautiful. Looking at it makes me feel joyful and peaceful at the same time. I enjoy the memories that it evokes in me, city-girl memories of my high school English class and a poem that touched my girlish heart then and still inspires me toward even deeper and more meaningful reflections in this present season of my life.



The splendor in the grass poem by Wordsworth tells us not to grieve, for there is a faith that looks through death and finds the strength to carry on.


  1. Kristie Nuckols :

    I just watched the movie Splendor in the Grass with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Such a great movie, but I don’t think it does the poem justice. I think they could have concentrated more on the true meaning of the full length and meaning of what William Wordsworth meant when he wrote the poem. I guess people have different views and meanings for what it applies to there life.

    • I know what you mean, Kristie. I don’t think the movie was trying to be very reflective of the poem.

      Thank you for finding my blog and for taking the time to leave your insightful comment.

  2. So true that we are like grass. Life is short, but so reassuring that God’s Word endures forever. Glad to meet up with you, Rosemary, via The Loft!

    • I only recently found The Loft, and I’m glad that I did. I look forward to visiting your blog soon. Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. Rosemary, what a splendid post. I have never read that poem, but this really caught me: there is a faith that looks through death. Oh my, yes, there is, and I’m so thankful for it. So thankful that Jesus stared death in the face, and did away with it. Thank you for linking up with us at The Loft.

    • I thought this was a brilliant picture prompt. Thank you for providing The Loft. It is helping to reawaken my desire to write.

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