The World Is Too Much With Us
The Importance of Nature in Prelude, the World is Too Much with Us, London, 1802 and Tinturn Abbey
Throughout history the technological advancements made by mankind gradually forms a gap with nature, separating us from our ancestors. These products of society pull us away from nature, making it harder to appreciate what is truly is. William Wordsworth was a romantic poet who witnessed this lack of appreciation during his lifetime. Wordsworth’s poetry aims to inform those people who are too engulfed in the material world to pause and witness the miracles that come with the beauty of nature. The poems and sonnets I analyze in which Wordsworth’s views are expressed are The Prelude, The World Is Too Much With Us, and London, 1802 and Tinturn Abbey. In each one of these, Wordsworth shows us the ignorance that the people in the world have towards nature, especially examples from his own life. Wordsworth views nature as an amazing gift and blessing, he wants the people around him and in the world to realize that they’re focus on material items blocks them from witnessing the miracles that are unfolding before them everyday. Wordsworth wants to show people that what they’re missing is truly beautiful, that nature is a miracle.
The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. In wordsworth’s poem named, Tinturn Abbey, Wordsworth recalls one of his memories of nature to try and show his appreciation of nature. Wordsworth writes about when he was a child, in which the peaceful, quiet, and beautiful setting of the place surrounding brought him happiness. Tinturn Abbey helps Wordsworth express the tranquility and calming vibe of nature by describing the setting where he is separated from the rest of world, however Wordsworth doesn’t describe the Abbey or any details of the building. Wordsworth doesn’t want the past to repeat, he doesn’t want this memory to be the same for everyone. He wants to let everyone in on the idea that the beautiful world around them has a lasting effect. “That time is past, and all its aching joys are now no more, and all its dizzy raptures. Not for this faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts have followed; for such loss, I would believe abundant recompense. For I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but yearning oftentimes the still sad music of humanity nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power to chasten and subdue.” (Lines 83-93) He has seen the essence of nature that makes it beautiful. He knows what the world is and knows that we all have the ability to witness nature and gain the appreciation of it. This quote is an example of the outreach that Wordsworth attempts in order to tell humanity to wake up and look around. He is telling everyone to witness the world, and the beauty that it holds. Someone can be easily be blind towards something, in this case essence and beauty of nature, but that something is usually right in front of them, and unless they really slow down and focus their mind on seeing it they won’t be able to gain the appreciation before them.
The critique of humanity and it’s declining attitude towards nature is seen again by Wordsworth in Prelude, a poem that is about the French nation and it’s fall. At the start of the French revolution William Wordsworth felt that the French revolution was a wonderful thing for poeple. Everyone was doing things that helped them set themselves free and make them feel equal to everyone else around them. As time went on the revolution took a turn for the worst, the French rebels became more and more violent, causing Wordsworth to lose hope in the movement. Wordsworth positioned himself on the side which was fighting for a freedom he felt everyone deserved. What started as a fight for freedom, and for equality among men slowly turned into a hatred of the opposition, fueled by killing every last enemy. Some feelings or mindsets of the revolution can be represented in the quote, “‘As they set out to eliminate their enemies, they seemed to follow the cynical imperative coined at the time: ‘Be my friend, or I will kill you.’” (Betts) The savage nature that overtook the Revolution became too much for the rebels, and it ended up being the cause for William Wordsworth losing faith in the revolution. Wordsworth writes, “But now become oppressors in their turn, Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defense for one of conquest, losing sight of all which they had struggled for: now mounted up openly to the eye of earth and heaven, the scale of liberty. I read her doom.” (Prelude lines 41-45) Wordsworth compares the French, and their failure to the decline of one’s creativity and ability to produce something greater than oneself. He worries that the people of the world will end up becoming unmotivated, and have no will to continue on in their lives, because they have lost the opportunity to hold something in the world close to their hearts. The French lost their sense of justice, but for the world the overall concern is the power of imagination within oneself and how they use it to place value on the beauty of nature.
The World Is Too Much With Us, a sonnet written by William Wordsworth, describes humanity’s failure in the appreciation of nature. Wordsworth feels and thinks that people are too obsessed and invested with the creations of man, rather than the creations and gifts of the world that were created by God. “The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste to our powers: little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (The World Is Too Much With Us, lines 1-4) Later on in the sonnet, Wordsworth expresses how he wants to be greek. If he was greek, according to greek philosophy, he would be inclined to observe the world around him the work of the gods and godesses; he wouldn’t be surrounded by people who don’t understand the value of nature. The eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope gives a better explanation of Wordsworth’s message when he says, “Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, One clear unchang ‘d and universal light, Life, force, and beauty must to all impart. At once the source, and end, and test of Art.” (Pope) This neoclassical message given by Pope is similar to Wordsworth’s idea, but it conveys a purpose for admiring nature. He explains to the reader that nature is the beginning of our history and that we as humans need to look at nature and understand how important it’s been to humanity throughout our existence. These men both emphasize the knowledge of knowing and appreciating the gift from a higher power, and express how we shouldn’t take such a magnificent miracle for granted.
London, 1802 references John Milton, who was a large influence to Wordsworth, and condemns current state of the nation, comparing it’s disgusting nature to a swamp. Mourning the death of Milton the speaker says the people have forgotten the how religion, power, and literature made the nation so illustrious. The speaker wants the English people to understand that God blessed humanity with things that we need to appreciate. Having heard the feelings and values of the people, the speaker says, “We are selfish men; Oh! Raise us up, return to us again; and give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.” (London lines 6-8) This was written after American Revolution which makes the English feel as if they lost to people whom they saw to be less sophisticated and organized. Their highly respected and powerful military force was defeated.
This simple sonnet becomes more complex as the meaning of Milton being mentioned is considered. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, which reimagined the creation story in the bible into a book with dialogue. Milton created a storyline where he gives more details in order to make it easier to interpret the meanings behind the text of the original story meant. He portrays Satan to have a desire for the beauty of the earth, but because of his actions Satan will never be able to enjoy the gift of the world. Satan sets out to infect his evil into the world in order to corrupt as much good as he can. If you consider the themes of each story you see how closely related the themes are. Wordsworth and Milton both express that people all have a chance to become involved with God and need to take advantage of and understand that opportunity so we don’t fall into the category of Satan, and lose the gift that God has given us.
It is important that each individual understands the value of the world surrounding them. Each individual was born on this planet in which an infinite number of miracles can take place every single day, whether it be the human body or the smallest organism, nature is all around us and most people have forgotten to treasure the value it holds. The world is changing and evolving every day, nevertheless the significance of the world will always be that it is the beginning and end of all life. William Wordsworth understood the importance of nature and attempted to show its value to the world within the literary works he created.
A Vision of a Poet and Nature in the World is Too Much with Us
In 1807, William Wordsworth conceived one of his most acclaimed poems titled The World is Too Much With Us. To this day, his work continues to be the most influential in Western literature and is often stated to be the face of the nineteenth century. Throughout the Romantic Era, the stereotypical vision of a tortured poet became established, as well as a newly constructed appreciation of nature, which is distinctly evident in William Wordsworth’s poem, The World is Too Much With Us.
The poem conveys the concept that the writer is a tortured visionary, a stereotype created throughout the artistic movement of the Romantic Period. This cliché portrays the artist in a continuous moment of misunderstood frustration. It is discreetly evident throughout the poem when Wordsworth states “Great God! I’d rather be / A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;” (Wordsworth 9-10). This line expresses the poet’s impression of constantly feeling disconnected from the rest of society and essentially misapprehended. Additionally, Wordsworth states in the next two lines “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, / Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;” (Wordsworth 11-12), furthering the idealistic stereotype. Amid the Romantic Era, it was frequently rumoured that the tortured artist often suffered from mental illness, and after numerous experiments, this hypothesis deemed accurate. In a study examined by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it discloses “However, being an author was specifically associated with increased likelihood of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. In addition, we found an association between creative professions and first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa, and for siblings of patients with autism.” (Kyaga, et al. 83). Additionally, in a study published by Clarivate Analytics in Creativity Research Journal, they conclude that there is in fact a correlation between mental illnesses and an increase in creativity, clearly stating “In fact, nonschizophrenics with either schizotypal or schizoid personality disorder or multiple schizotypal signs (which other research has linked with genetic liability for schizophrenia) had significantly higher creativity than other participants.” (Kinney, et al. 17). William Wordsworth’s pieces are able to further glorify this cliché vision of a tortured artist and comply to the new nineteenth century idealized version of an innovative genius.
The nineteenth century aged in the enhanced appreciation of nature in response to the materialistic essence brought by way of the Neoclassical Era. Wordsworth references nature frequently throughout the poem in an honorary regard, parallel to the Romantic Era’s distinct admiration towards the environment. It is initially detected in the third line, declaring “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” (Wordsworth 3). This line expresses Wordsworth’s aching fondness while simultaneously identifying society’s lack of gratitude towards nature. In regards to the environment, Wordsworth expresses “For this, for everything, we are out of tune; / It moves us not.” (Wordsworth 8-9), emphasizing humanity’s inability to become captivated by the wildlife around them. As stated by Tiffany Wayne in the Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism, she indicates “Wordsworth influenced Ralph Waldo Emerson and American romanticism even more significantly, perhaps, in his emphasis on the role of the poet as interpreter of nature and as a ‘representative’ or ideal man in his relationship to nature and to the life of the mind.” (Wayne 321). Finally, in the Encyclopedia of Literary Romanticism, Second Edition, Melissa Elmes concludes “Throughout [William Wordsworth’s] work he maintains the voice of one who observes, filters, and records the relationship between humans and nature with a keen understanding and awareness of the ephemeral and transient quality of the former in comparison with the permanence and intransience of the latter. This is the essence of his Romanticism.” (Elmes). Wordsworth was truly entranced by nature allowing him a preeminent prospect of the artistic form, essentially captivating numerous readers and catering to the movement of the Romantic Period.
In conclusion, William Wordsworth notably complimented the Romantic Era’s conventional ideas of the stereotypical vision of a tortured poet, as well as a newly constructed appreciation of nature, distinctly evident in his poem, The World is Too Much With Us. Additionally, his artistic concepts created an influence in literature, which can be identified to modern day writing.
The Divinity of Nature: the World is Too Much with Us by Wordsworth V. God’s Grandeur by Hopkins
Often those who watch from a mountain top, the wind teases each tree in every direction knowing they won’t follow, are the ones in which find solace among nature. Whether they find nature to be a gift from God himself or a phenomenon of life in many forms. There are individuals in every generation that defend the natural world and pity others for the way they have lost sight of its beauty. Such individuals as the poets, William Wordsworth and Gerard Manley Hopkins, both of which wrote poems dedicated to the conservation of the natural world. In 1807 Wordsworth published his sonnet, The World Is Too Much With Us, in which he voiced his anger regarding how mankind had betrayed the natural world. In 1877, seventy years later, Hopkins published his sonnet titled, God’s Grandeur, where he expressed a similar disappointment in the societies lack in appreciation for the natural world. There is an overwhelming sense of vexation from both poems that clearly resonates with Wordsworth and Hopkins along with their readers as well. While both poems were rooted in the same disdain it is important to make note of the approach each poet took while writing their pieces, religiously, personally, and otherwise. In many ways the poems, God’s Grandeur and The World Is Too Much With Us, overlap but to compare the two it is critical that the reader be mindful of the points at which they differ. The similarities and differences lie within the structure, theme, symbolism, and use of language, which develop the overall meaning of each poem.
Structurally, God’s Grandeur and The World Is Too Much With Us, are very similar. Both pieces are written in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet which is divided into two stanzas, the first being an octave and the second being a sestet. The form of a Petrarchan sonnet is specifically organized to allow the first stanza of eight lines to introduce a problem or theme in the piece, while the second stanza of six lines is to offer a solution. To which Hopkins follows very well by establishing his problem in the first eight lines followed by his solution in the last six. Wordsworth slightly shifted this structure by having the octave flow into the sestet which begins by proposing the problem but ends with a rather sarcastic solution. It is Wordsworth variation that sets his poem apart from Hopkins. They begin to overlap again within the rhyme scheme of each poem which is ‘abba abba cdcdcd,’ which is to fit the intended purpose of each stanza. Wordsworth and Hopkins make use of the intended Petrarchan rhyme scheme which makes both sonnets have a relatively specific rhythm. Along with the rhyme scheme, meter is important to the rhythm of the poem. Petrarchan sonnets have a traditional meter known as iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter is structured as five pairs of syllables, the first syllable in each pair being unstressed and the second stressed. Despite both sonnets being classified as Petrarchan they each break from the iambic pentameter. Wordsworth utilized iambic pentameter when he wrote, “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; / The winds that will be howling at all hours,” (5-6). In these lines the iambic pentameter is quite songlike which is similar throughout the rest of the sonnet. Wordsworth strayed from the traditional meter when he wrote, “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— / Little we see in Nature that is ours;” (2-3). Within these two lines the first syllable is stressed. Hopkins slightly strayed from the iambic pentameter as well with naturally stressed syllables and purposeful pauses in the middle of lines. His change in meter occurred in the poem when he wrote, “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;” (5). It is in this line that the repetition of the phrase “have trod,” following the syllable heavy “Generations,” breaks the meter to emphasize the exact motion in which mankind had left their negative impact on the natural world. It is fascinating to see the similarity in meter variation between the two sonnets while they still differed in many ways. Though both sonnets remain structurally similar the slight differences between them play a huge role in distinguishing each sonnet.
In many ways, God’s Grandeur and The World Is Too Much With Us, also possess quite the same themes throughout. In both sonnets the theory of a higher power being reflected through its creation are heavy themes. Hopkins establishes this theme in his very first line where he wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (1). It is clear that Hopkins saw the natural world as the reflection of God himself. Wordsworth wrote with the same theme, but it remained subtle in comparison to Hopkins. In instances where Wordsworth relies on imagery it becomes obvious that he too saw the natural world as a reflection of a higher power. When Wordsworth wrote, “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” while it was not plainly stated there is an underlying message that tells the reader, nature isn’t the possession of mankind but rather God’s attempt to share his beauty. The pivotal difference between the two sonnets is Hopkins expansion on this theme by implying the power of God will always upstage the shortcomings of mankind as opposed to Wordsworth’s more subtle acknowledgment to God’s presence. Wordsworth focused his sonnet on the materialistic and fast paced societal shift which angered him, leaving him to question why people had begun to ignore nature. This is evident when he writes, “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—” (2). Wordsworth projects his sadness towards humanity’s need for power through wealth and business rather than respecting nature, angrily scrutinizing the ease at which society gave into materialism. Hopkins had a similar anger in those who had lost sight of what he believed to be God’s most precious gift to mankind, nature, where he wrote, “And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; / And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil” (6-7). Acknowledging the same betrayal of nature by mankind in which humanity left its mark on the natural world for their own personal gain. Both sonnets seem to address an underlying message of how the more people impact nature the less they long to appreciate it. Although much of Hopkins reference to materialism is subtle, mirroring the same way in which Wordsworth approached God’s presence in the natural world. While both poems are also following the Petrarchan sonnet form, the reader can see that Hopkins indicates his problem in the first eight lines, being that mankind has lost sight of God by neglecting nature. It is here that he also emphasizes the weakness of mankind. Followed by his solution in the last six lines which is that God’s power will eventually wash away the mark humanity left on the natural world. Whereas Wordsworth seemed to state his problem followed by an ambiguous solution. Though the two sonnets differed, they carried the same themes of divine power and materialistic society, which ultimately lead to the overall message of each poem. The message being to conserve the natural world and to renew the importance of nature. Through this message the tone of each poem is very clear, Wordsworth’s tone being angry, vengeful, and sarcastic; as opposed Hopkins’ tone of hopelessness that eventually eases as his faith is restored once again by the power of God.
Imagery and symbolism were used heavily to strengthen the themes of each sonnet. In The World Is Too Much With Us, nature is the most prominent subject at which the imagery is derived. Wordsworth describes his sight of the ocean at night when he wrote, “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; / The winds that will be howling at all hours,” (5-6). In a way Wordsworth is using the ocean and wind to symbolize a divine vulnerable power, in doing so strengthens the theme of the sonnet. He tied this imagery to a later line in which he wrote, “For this, for everything, we are out of tune;” (8). The connection between these three lines is Wordsworth’s acknowledgment to his own use of symbolism in which he used the sea and the wind to symbolize the entirety of nature and its importance. Hopkins on the other hand approached his use of imagery in a different way, while remaining with the theme of coastal imagery. Suggested by the similarities between crashing waves as the assumed manifestation of God’s power to the way foil looks as it is shaken. It is when Hopkins wrote, “It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;” (2). He chose to compare the opposing things in order to emphasize the noticeable power of God in nature and the way in which it could fade away. Much like Wordsworth’s connection between his lines, Hopkins used this line to expand his statement acknowledging the “charged” nature the power God possesses. Hopkins included imagery such as, “the ooze of oil” (3) and “the Holy Ghost” (13) as well as prominent images in his sonnet. The image of “the Holy Ghost” (13) is pivotal in Hopkins main theme of the divine essence of God in nature by implying the Holy Ghost is watching over mankind much like a bird over their brood. He distinguishes the transition between day and night through imagery as he wrote, “And though the last lights off the black West went” (11). It is in this line that symbolism was playing a heavy role as well by using the fading of night into day as symbols. Symbolizing the hopelessness, he was trying to convey towards mankind along with his faith in God’s light renewing the natural world. Wordsworth and Hopkins overlap with their use of imagery in using images to symbolize a feeling of discontent and hopelessness. Wordsworth reflects on his lack of faith when he wrote, “Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;” (12). As he described the wish, he had of losing the feeling of disappointment that plagued him due to mankind’s path of destruction in nature. He followed up this line as he referenced Greek mythological sea gods, Proteus and Triton. He wrote, “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; / Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.” (13-14). The symbolism that lies in his imagery is significant due to the powers the two God’s possess, Proteus’s ability to shift appearance paired with his knowledge of the past, present, and future. While Triton had immense power and was known for his conch that functions similarly to a siren call. Wordsworth seemed to have referenced Proteus and Triton in order to symbolize his initial point of humanity obsession with materialistic culture that will never end and his call to action for mankind to find their way back to nature, shown through Proteus’ knowledge and Tritons conch. Although Wordsworth and Hopkins differed in their use of strong imagery, there were still overlapping themes of coastal imagery representing a higher power and symbolism within the natural environment to project their own emotions towards the evanescent importance of nature in their own societies.
The use of language and tone in both sonnets is the source of fluidity that bridges the gap between the structure and theme in each piece. Tying the aforementioned aspects together in a way that them to expand upon each other. Both Wordsworth and Hopkins have quite interesting language and tone. Wordsworth makes solid use of repetition and alliteration in such phrases as, “bares her bosom” (5) and “howling at all hours” (6). As does Hopkins, where in each line of God’s Grandeur there are at least two alliterating words which goes against the typical rhythm of a sonnet. It is in God’s Grandeur as well, that Hopkins chose to use the alliteration of ‘b’ and ‘br’ words in the last three lines, “Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — / Because the Holy Ghost over the bent / World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” (12-14). In a similar way as Wordsworth, Hopkins made use of repetition as well in the line, “Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;” (5). Unlike Wordsworth, Hopkins had a repeating phrase rather than letter. As both poets abandon aspects of the traditional sonnet by using various writing techniques such as alliteration and intertwining a few others throughout their pieces. Wordsworth used a simile in the phrase, “like sleeping flowers” (7). Where he gave the action of sleep to inanimate flowers rather than the typical comparison to flowers as still objects without any type of action. Hopkins included a simile of his own in which he compared God’s manifestation of power through nature to oil. Within this comparison there is a sense of irony as Hopkins compared God’s power, the good, to the environmentally detrimental substance oil, the bad. He wrote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; / It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil.” (1-3). It is in the following Hopkins introduces a writing technique not used by Wordsworth, enjambment. Hopkins’ use of enjambment is a powerful aspect throughout the sonnet such as the use of “crushed” (5) to begin the second quatrain. It is also seen in the phrase “Is Bare” (8) at the end of the second quatrain. As well as the use of “World” (14) in the last line of his sonnet. Another way in which Hopkins interrupts the traditional meter is through internal rhyme as shown in the sixth line where he rhymes “seared,” “bleared,” and “smeared” (6). Along with the specific use of slant rhyme which is seen in the phrase, “dearest freshness” (10). Unlike Hopkins, Wordsworth chose to personify nature throughout as if to acknowledge nature as well when he addresses the ‘we’ throughout his sonnet. While Hopkins used such techniques as parallelism between phrases in second quatrain and interjections such as, “Oh” (12) and “ah!” (14), whereas Wordsworth did not in his sonnet. The use of language throughout the sonnets, God’s Grandeur and The World Is Too Much With Us, set a foundation in which the reader could begin to expand the intended meaning. Making both sonnets incredibly effective.
The analytical comparison of both, God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth, the poems begin to blend into one. Their similarities within the tone of hopelessness, the structure as Petrarchan sonnets, the symbolism within nature, and the clear belief in natural theology, make the poems complement each other well. Their differences with the use of language, writing techniques, intensity of religious beliefs, and the resolution of the sonnets are defining components that distinguish the sonnets from each other. Despite the extent to which both sonnets reflect each other, the ways in which they differ subliminally say quite a lot about the moment in time in which they were written and the societal changes that were taking place. In the end, the works analyzed within this essay are in many ways relevant to the far more materialistic culture that is present in society today, making each sonnet right in their prediction that materialism would only continue to grow. The result being the majority of mankind has lost sight of the natural world and do little to conserve nature. Making the message within both sonnets even more important today.
My Impressions from Poetry
Longing as a theme in classic poems
Longing for something can often be a terrible feeling. Wanting something that you know you cannot have never feels well. Longing can apply to a number of things, such as wanting a material object, wanting a relationship or some sort of connection with someone, or longing for change, and many more. Longing is quite a common theme in several of the poems that we have read in class this semester. A few of these poems that illustrate the feeling of longing would be Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, William Wordsworth’s The World Is Too Much With Us, and lastly in Emily Dickinson’s My Life had Stood – a Loaded Gun.
First, the idea of longing can be observed in the poem Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver. Throughout the poem, the narrator gives examples of imperfections and struggles. An example of this would be, “Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine” (Oliver 557). She then compares them to nature, and shows how nature goes on just as it is supposed to, no matter what issues human beings face. This is shown in the quote, “Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again” (Oliver 557). Mary Oliver is portraying the daily struggles of humans, and how they long to be as free and pure as the wild geese are in the sky.
Similar to Wild Geese, feeling of longing can be felt in the poem The World Is Too Much With Us, written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the author is angrily discussing the modern world’s disconnect with nature. This can be seen in the line, “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” (Wordsworth 563). He is longing for that same connection again, and is upset that the rest of the modern world wont follow suit. An example of this would be when the author wrote, “for this, for everything, we are out of tune” (Wordsworth 563). The author sees all of the beauty and wonder in nature, and longs for the rest of the world to make the same connection.
Lastly, we can observe a sense of longing in the poem My Life had Stood – a Loaded Gun, by Emily Dickinson. This poem shows the personification of a firearm, presumably a rifle, and how it longs to please and protect its owner. An example can be seen in this line, “And do I smile, such cordial light” (Dickinson 467). This not only is showing how the narrator gets joy out of being of use to their owner, but also is symbolic of muzzle flash right when the rife is fired. The feeling of longing can be felt when reading the line, “My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun – In Corners – till a Day -The Owner passed – identified – And carried Me away” (Dickinson 467). The narrator is just waiting and waiting, longing for a purpose, until one day when the owner comes in and takes the rifle.
In conclusion, several of the poems that we have read in class this semester have some feelings of longing within them. A few examples of these poems would be Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth, and My Life had Stood – a Loaded Gun by Emily Dickinson. In each of these stories, the narrator is longing for something different, whether it’s longing to escape from the struggles of life and to be as free as nature is, longing for the rest of the world to see things as you do, or longing to serve a purpose. In some of these poems the narrator achieved what they were longing for, while others were left still longing for the unachievable. At the end of the day, what should be focused on and appreciated, is what you already have.
The Main Message of the World is Too Much with Us Poem
“The World Is Too Much With Us” is one of the well-known poems written by William Wordsworth. Wordsworth is one of the initiators of a poetic movement called Romanticism which introduced a new trend in poetry, spanning from 1790 to 1824. This poetic rebellion was due to the industrial revolution; which led to the expansion of cities and industries over rural areas. William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) lived most of his life around nature in northern England in a place called Lake District, a beautiful green land full of vales, hills and lakes. Thus, no doubt that he is against the destruction of nature through urbanization. This attitude is clear in the title of his poem “The World Is Too Much With Us” (1807). The fact that he is against city life is in accordance with his conception of poetry because according to him “common life” is rustic life, so the whole poem can be regarded as rustic life. Moreover, Wordsworth said that the language should be simple which applies in his quotation” selection of language really used by men” , and it should express powerful feelings as he said” the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”. In the following lines, the essay will illustrate these three features that Wordsworth used in his poem to convey his message for us.
The first depiction of what Wordsworth names “common life” is well illustrated in “The World Is Too Much With Us” poem. On the whole, Romantics believe in the innate integrity of humans which is deterred by the urban life. Due to the negative results of the industrial revolution, people became more materialistic. The poem is a call for going back to common life which is “nature” life for him that’s why he says in the beginning of the poem “Getting and Spending, we lay waste our powers” (2), he denotes that people became so busy by money that they have no time to look for the beauty of nature; all of our energy assigns for materialistic needs. In the next line, he says “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” (3); here Wordsworth uses the word “little” to stress the idea of not taking care of nature and he capitalized the first letter of “Nature” to show its importance to the reader as it is a divine. Moreover, Wordsworth beautify nature in two opposed images when he says
“The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;” (6-7)
He describes the wind as a feral animal who is “howling” and as a beautiful thing like a “flower” which shows the assortment of nature life.
Simplicity of language is what Wordsworth affirms in this poem as it combines with his quotation when he said that poetry should be written in “selection of language really used by men”. Although “The World Is Too Much With Us” poem is a sonnet; and sonnets suppose to be formal yet he uses very simple short words like “late”, “Getting”…etc. Besides, he uses simple similes to be nearer to common people like “sleeping flowers”. Moreover, the rhyme scheme of this poem is ABBA ABBA CDCDCD; besides, the appearance of the punctuation at the end of the line grants these rhymes to be listened to producing a superior musicality for the reader.
The third aspect that it is stressed in Wordsworth’s definition of poetry is subjectivity and powerful feelings. Romantics believe that acquaintance is gained throughout feeling rather than logic. This is best summarized by Wordsworth who affirmed that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” On the whole, the poem has a tone of anger as the poet enrages with people’s disaffection from nature “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (4); the fact that he uses a paradox in “sordid boon” reflects his unstable emotions. As he continues, the increase of his anger tone is showed in exclamation marks and his complaint to god by raising his voice while saying “Great God!”. Besides, he said “Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;” (12) the word “forlorn” connotes depression and sadness for the separation between mankind and nature.
All in all, the previous lines have illustrated William Wordworth’s poem “The World Is Too Much With Us” in three different features of Romanticism that also implies with Wordsworth famous quotation which says that the poetic material should come from “common life” and written in a “selection of language really used by men”; he defines poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…”. Generally speaking, the poet is mourning the death of nature in people’s hearts after the rise of the urban life. In the first place, the nature life is the “common life” for Wordsworth, but people’s materialistic needs have overcome nature. On balance, Wordsworth has overflow of powerful anger feelings appeared in his choice for words and punctuation. Additionally, he uses a very simple language to convey his message to common people not to mention the interaction of the delightful music.
Similarities and Differences in William Wordsworth’s Poetry
Both W.B. Yeats and William Wordsworth mourn humanity’s increasing distance from nature. However, the poets offer different responses to this man-nature divide: while Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” suggests that humans can find solace by retreating into nature, Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us” takes the more pessimistic view that because humans have become unable to relate to nature, the only possible escape from modern society is by reminiscing on times past. Devices such as visual and auditory imagery as well as complex poetic forms are used by both poets to illustrate these themes.
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and “The World Is Too Much With Us” share a reliance on imagery – in both poems, visual and auditory images are used to convey themes about nature. In “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” Yeats begins by vividly describing a scenic cabin in the woods; lines 2-3 describe such details as the materials of which the cabin will be made, the plants around the cabin, and its bee-hives. These minutiae have the effect of painting a life-like image of a cabin in the reader’s mind; they make the reader feel as if he or she were at the cabin with the speaker and thus make it easier for the reader to empathize with the speaker’s thoughts about the cabin. In addition to establishing the poem’s verisimilitude, the imagery of a cabin surrounded by bean stalks begins to convey the sense of peace and tranquility which Yeats attributes to nature. This is further accomplished in the second quatrain, where Yeats writes that “peace comes dropping slow … from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings.” Here, Yeats explicitly associates peace with the auditory image of a cricket’s chirping so as to deepen the connection in the reader’s mind between peacefulness and the sounds of the natural world; the reader therefore comes to understand that retreats to nature are peaceful. Wordsworth also uses imagery to illustrate his beliefs about nature, but to a different effect. In line 5, for example, he describes the visual image of the sea at night. While this image would normally seem soothing, in context with the rest of the poem, it is actually being used to illustrate humankind’s distance from nature. That is, Wordsworth highlights this traditionally scenic image only to show that humans are so removed from nature that even the sight of the sea at night “moves us not.” His use of auditory imagery has a similar effect: he describes mighty winds that “howl at all hours”; this, again, is a powerful image that should have an emotional impact on people, but instead serves to illustrate that even the most intense acts of nature fail to have an emotional impact on modern humans. While both Yeats and Wordsworth depend on imagery, then, Yeats uses it to convey nature’s tranquility, while Wordsworth uses it to emphasize humanity’s irredeemable disconnection from even the best of nature.
The form of both poems is also significant in revealing their attitudes toward nature. Yeats’ poem is organized into three quatrains, each of which has a regular ABAB rhyme scheme. This technique has a rhythmic, pleasing effect; it helps develop the poem’s meaning by suggesting a soothing sense of order, much like the order and rhythm that Yeats believes one can find in nature. And yet, this sense of order, while clearly regular and organized, is very non-traditional – after all, no classical poetic form consists exclusively of three quatrains. That “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” is written in such a non-traditional yet rhythmic form therefore mirrors Yeats’ belief that rhythm and peace cannot be found in traditional human constructs, but must be sought out in the (non-traditional) wilderness of nature. Wordsworth’s use of poetic form is also prevalent, but could not have a more different effect. Since “The World Is Too Much With Us” is written as a Petrarchan sonnet, it can be divided into an octave and a sestet. This division is significant, as the octave focuses on establishing the extent to which humans are removed from nature, whereas the sestet proposes a solution of sorts to this removal. That is, Wordsworth’s use of a Petrarchan sonnet helps delineate the two different components of his argument: that humanity is removed from nature (this is described in the octave), and that people can only reconnect to the natural world by revisiting ideals from the ancient world (this is established in the sestet). Thus, while both poets rely on technique to convey their themes, they do so differently: whereas Yeats uses the technique to mirror the poem’s meaning, Wordsworth uses it to distinguish between a problem and a solution.
In these ways, Yeats and Wordsworth develop their contrasting views on the human-nature divide. By forefronting peaceful images and a poetic form that is soothing but off-the-beaten-path, Yeats conveys the theme that humans can find tranquility in nature. Wordsworth, meanwhile, uses similar imagery to an almost opposite end; he suggests that humans have become irreparably distanced from all of nature’s power. As underscored by his distinct sestet, the only solution, in Wordsworth’s view, would be to retreat to the simpler times of Proteus or Triton. Thus, both poems take an escapist stance, but their techniques reveal their escapes to be fundamentally different: Yeats’ escape is into nature, while Wordsworth’s is into history and mythology.
The Analysis Of William Wordsworth’s Poem, ‘The World Is Too Much With Us’
William Wordsworth’s poem, The World is Too Much With Us explores the results of distancing man from the natural world due to the societal obsession with materialism. My media product, The People are Too Much Without Themselves is a creative interpretation of this theme and it is about how humans obsession with technology is distancing them from each other. My media product is uses aspects of the poems content, style and structure to help accurately represent it.
William Wordsworth lived through the Romantic time period which heavily influenced this poem. Romanticism was a period of great change and revolution from a more scientific view of the world to a natural world. This was an “age that felt a new appreciation for the sublime in the natural world.” (Victorian Web 1) However, this was also a time for the industrial revolution and this gave power and wealth to individual who had the most material wealth. Wordsworth displays the clashes between these two ideologies in a very apparent manner. In the speakers eyes the world is simply “getting and spending” and is laying waste to its “powers” (Wordsworth 2). This represents the idea of commodification and how humans are so focused on attaining power through material wealth that they are wasting their true talents and usefulness in order to do so. The speak also feels that society sees “little in Nature” and this shows how society does not appreciate and distances itself form nature (Wordsworth 3). I portray this idea in my media product by having a character in a game give up his heart in order to get a coin. In a game coins are not as rare as hearts and hearts are much more useful as they can provide healing, but the character still choses to accept this exchange. This entire scene is displayed on a Gameboy which can only be operated by someone. This symbolizes how we as humans are doing this to ourselves and by doing this we are distancing ourselves form each other, much like how the speaker feels society is distancing themselves from nature.
The structure of this poem is also carefully chosen by Wordsworth to further emphasize the theme. He uses rhyme to emphasize and add meaning to nature. He rhymes “boon” with “moon” and “hours” with “flowers”, and in this way by rhyming words that are about nature he creates an emphasis on them (Wordsworth 2-4). In my media product I represent nature through the people and I showed this sort of emphasis by having everything in dark and dull colours other than the people, which are in bright and vibrant colours, in order to emphasize their importance. This rhyme scheme is created through the sonnet structure Wordsworth uses and this is another very important choice he makes. The sonnet structure is very rigid and has many fixed rules. This clashes with not only Wordsworth “simpler, more conversationalist” style but also the poems theme of being free and natural as well (Robinson 20). By doing this in such a subtle way Wordsworth attempts to show how we are in a false consciousness. We are willing to accept this consumeristic view of the world not knowing the limits and barriers it puts on us and nature. In my media product I have large black bars which cover the video. Although most do not notice them they actually take away from the viewing pleasure and cover a considerable portion of the video. Both the sonnet form and the black bars in my video are subtle structural changes that take away from the overall effect of the product but are accepted by the viewer or reader simply because they are unaware.
Wordsworth has a variety of stylistic choices which all enhance the theme of the poem. He uses very powerful and well-chosen words in this poem and overall has a very strong emotional impact. He feels so strongly about humans distancing themselves from nature that sees it as a “sordid boon” (Wordsworth 4). When something is called a “sordid boon” it creates a very strong emotional response of contempt and this shows how impactful his diction is, in my media product I show this by creating a scene where two people are busy on their Gameboy and walk past each other. When they walk past each other their souls reach out for each other but cannot reach because they are being pulled away. His allusions also have a similarly strong emotional impact. His allusions of him becoming a “Pagan” and then seeing “Proteus rise from the sea” is like a call for revolution. (Wordsworth 10-13). Becoming a Pagan would mean that he would be an outcast from society but that was fine with him as long as it got him closer to nature. However, he takes this notion further by saying that he sees “Proteus” rising which symbolizes nature and all those who support it rising against the materialism of mankind and its supporters. In my media product I display this sort of idea by having an Aboriginal tribe dancing and chanting, and then a crow flying out of the video. The Aboriginal tribe symbolizes Paganism as they did not use technology and so they would be outcasts in today’s society, and the crow symbolizes Proteus as in Aboriginal lore it is said to be a symbol for change and power. The crow flies out and breaks the black bars which shows it breaking free from the world’s false consciousness. Both the crow and Proteus are calls for revolution against this society.
A Quick Review Of The Poem ‘The World Is Too Much With Us’ By William Wordsworth
“The World Is Too Much With Us” by William Wordsworth Response
William Wordsworth’s poem, “The World Is Too Much With Us,” relates unexpectedly well with what is happening today in the world. Writings about nature were very popular during the late 18th to early 19th century and Wordsworth is known to focus heavily on it. Since his childhood in rural England he became obsessed with what nature has to offer and what humankind has to the ability to ignore in nature. He says clearly from the title, and the first line, “the world is too much with us…getting and spending, we lay waste out powers,” meaning that mankind cannot handle nature and will remain focused on getting more and more stuff, wasting all of our energy up. What I believe he was witnessing was the development of industrialized England, whose focus was an increased rate of production, not a focus on the wonders of nature.
If William Wordworth were alive today he would be heartbroken. Not only are we out of tune with nature because of the focus on, “getting and spending,” but we are intentionally destroying it and clearly don’t care that we are doing so. He criticizes people for how mindless they had become, to only care about what they can “own,” rather than the simple things in life (in nature). Wordworth saw the future and our present, and just like us, he didn’t want to believe it. While mythological Gods are a fun topic for the classroom, I don’t recommend the world’s governments taking it up in order to paint the beckoning shitstorm a nicer color.
From climate change with the ice caps melting, to the vast number of threatened or endangered species, and even ozone layer depletion, when will we open our eyes to see that the world isn’t just doing this on its own? Every day the world is one step closer to a huge catastrophe and not just because of the political and social injustices, but because we have been taking advantage of something we need to survive.
William Wordsworth’s Portrayal Of Romanticism In ‘The World Is Too Much With Us’ And ‘I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud’
Wordsworth’s Poem Essay Response
William Wordsworth, author of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and The World is Too Much With Us, highlight important elements of Romanticism. The exotic, nature, emotion and individuality are perfectly embodied within these two poems. While carefully identifying each one, I’ve perceived Wordsworth’s message much more clear. His portrayal of romantic elements made me feel as if I were actually Wordsworth experiencing either bliss or outrage. Wordsworth wanted readers to connect with him through important romantic elements and successfully did so.
In one of Wordsworth’s most famous poems, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, he writes, “Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.” (Stanza 2, Line 6-12) After walking through valleys and hills, Wordsworth finds himself in an abundant crowd of daffodils stretching out in front of him. As he glances at them, he realizes it’s just like the Milky Way. It seemed there was no ending for both. Nature is the romantic element Wordsworth significantly uses.
In another one of Wordsworth’s poems, The World is too Much With Us, he writes, “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;” (Line 9-12) Wordsworth expresses his aggravation towards those who value materialistic possessions rather than nature. He wishes to be a pagan at this point. By Wordsworth being a pagan, he will only see glimpses of the world that wouldn’t make him feel sad and lonely instead of how unappreciative the world is with nature’s beauty. Wordsworth only uses one, but very conspicuous romantic element, emotion.
Throughout Wordsworth’s poetry, romantic elements are used as an important tool to express himself and connect with his readers. After analyzing just two out of four romantic elements, Wordsworth’s message was quite more interesting and meaningful. His poems were simple, but spoke to me on a louder level. The exotic, nature, emotion, and individuality encouraged both Wordsworth and I appreciate the world’s beauty and bliss.