My heart leaps up: A sense of wonder

I don’t know much about literature. That’s my Love’s department – although she has gotten me hooked.

I didn’t take any literature courses in college. I had one high school literature course: Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, a novel by Dickens (which left so little impression on me that I don’t remember its plot or title) and some poetry.

I didn’t see the point of poetry, with one exception: My heart leaps up, by William Wordsworth. My Dad will recite it at the drop of a hat. It’s been a touchstone of my life.

Why?

When I was very small, Dad told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a meteor shower was predicted, Dad would take me out into the mountains, where the air would be clear and free of light pollution. We would lay on our backs and look up at the sky and watch the show. He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

When I was small he showed me a video tape of Galloping Gertie. He told me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

Whenever a thunderstorm was predicted, he and I would sit out on the porch swing and watch it roll in over the mountains, the black line of clouds, the indistinct lightning in the clouds and beyond the mountains, the guttural rumble of distant thunder.

The smell, from afar off, of approaching rain in the high desert.

Then the flash of lightning nearby, the crack of thunder, the smell of ozone, the pummeling rain, pouring over the eaves on the far side of the porch.

He’d tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

The older I get, the more important that is to me, the more profound it seems to me. He doesn’t need to tell me,

Never lose your sense of wonder.

It’s the one thing I want to pass on to my children.

Never lose your sense of wonder.


I’m in love for the first time at age 35. I’m glad I never lost my sense of wonder.

Thanks, Dad.

My heart leaps up

My heart leaps up when I behold
    A rainbow in the sky:
So it was when my life began;
So it is 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.

William Wordsworth
26 March 1802