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William Wordsworth published a poem titled “The World Is Too Much With Us” in 1807. The poem bemoans the loss of humanity’s connection to nature and accuses industrial society of destroying it in favour of selfish pursuits. The poem was written by Wordsworth during the First Industrial Revolution, a time of technological and mechanical advancement that spanned the middle of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries and fundamentally altered British life.
About The Poet
William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770. Lyrical Ballads are Wordsworth’s most famous works. One of the main figures and a key intellectual behind English Romanticism was William Wordsworth, who was also one of its founders.
This is a traditional 14-line sonnet with a unique abbaabbacdcdcd rhyme pattern and iambic meter.
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!
The world is too much of us, as in “The World is Too Much With Us.” In reference to materialistic concerns like money, property, and power, the speaker laments the fact that there is an overabundance of all of these aspects. And he comes to the conclusion that it is “too much with us,” which means that we care about these earthly things far too much. He says we “lay waste our powers” when we spend our time, thoughts, and energies “getting and spending.”
People are so preoccupied with getting and spending that they are unaware of their own potential. Their time is consumed by their acts of earning money, spending money, and taking care of their things, and they are immersed in their need for more money. Once they were on the industrial treadmill, Wordsworth could see that individuals were sacrificing their passions and energies.
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;
The speaker of The World is Too Much With Us describes the wonders of nature that the majority of people skip on in these lines. He talks about the wind, the flowers, and the sea. A close relationship between the moon and the sea is implied when the sea “bares her bosom to the moon.” Winds are howling. The poet gives the reader a vision of nature and enables him to see what he is missing out on by being obsessed with material possessions.
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;
Because we are so consumed with material wealth, “we are out of tune” with nature. The speaker makes an oath in this passage that he would rather be a destitute pagan than be so concerned with wealth and status. He prays to God and even declares that he would prefer to be a pagan than to be disconnected from the environment.
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 wreathèd horn.
The speaker implies in these last lines that, if he were a poor pagan, he would get “glimpses” of nature that would bring him joy and hope, or at the very least help him feel “less forlorn.” He makes reference to two pagans in the last two lines. It was believed that Proteus could predict the future.
The speaker seems to imply that if he had been a pagan, he would have been capable of communicating with Proteus or even catching a glimpse of him as he watches the ocean. The pagan god Triton was credited with having the power to control ocean waves. This suggests that the speaker spends enough time admiring the sea to spot Triton.