These are the relevant passages from the William Wordsworth poem I referred to a couple times earlier and which inspired the title of this website. One of the best students I've ever had is familiar with the writing on this site and wasn't familiar with this poem, so have decided to include it here with a few comments below.

Intimations of Immortality from Recollections
of Early Childhood


THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

- William Wordsworth

I first encountered this in high school and then later in a couple of college literature classes. I came back to it from time to time over the years, realizing at some point it resonated so deeply for me simply because I felt someone was finally describing, far better than I ever could, what it is really like to be a child. That fading of an ineffable glory was almost palpable for me. There were snapshots of existence I carried around in my head as a record of that different level of reality, and I felt quite clearly and thought about, when I was in grade school, that "ability" fading.

It was almost funny how much I disliked some of the old children's books then – The Cat in the Hat in particular. Thing One and Thing Two were like my worst nightmares – adult used-car salesmen with hideous combovers shrunk down to mini-little whirlwinds of entropy and chaos.

There's a paragraph from Peter Matthiessen, taken from The Snow Leopard, writing about his infant son at play, which also captured this childhood sense, for me at least. I have read that passage along
with the excerpt from "Intimations" nearly every year with students and tried to discuss, without beating it to death, whether or not they still have that kind of feeling about childhood. Many do.