Tuesday, May 15, 2007

William Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much With Us"

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.

http://poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15878
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wordsworth

The speaker of this poem is Wordsworth, talking about materialism.

"The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers" is basically saying lately no one has payed attention to anything except for money and greed, using their (industrial revolutionaries/citizens of London) power to gain more power. In line 8, Wordsworth speaks of being "out of tune", meaning the people are not doing as nature intended; greed and control is taking over everyone's life course.

There is a reference to three religions at the end of the poem ("Great God!" - Christianity, "a pagan suckled..." - Paganism, and "Proteus... Old Triton" - Greek Mythology). As the greater majority of people in London at this time were Christians (or catholic), the way Wordsworth says he'd rather be a Pagan (or his sight and sound of the Greek Gods) shows how disgusted he is in the demoralization of ideals at this time (further emphasizing the materialism at the time).

3 comments:

Mr. Malley said...

Yes, writers in the romantic school also often pay reverence to figures from Greek mythology. In this part of the poem he is wishing that life was as mysterious as it was during the days before science had destroyed most mystery. He would rather look and see Gods and fate in control of all things.

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