William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us”: Analysis (2)

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Written by Jordan Dickie – BestWord.ca, poetical works and analysis.

     William Wordsworth illustrates in “The World is Too Much With US” how, in the early 19th century, mankind is plagued by materialism and the monotonies of wasted time in capitalistic pursuits.  Wordsworth describes us as “lay(ing) waste to our powers” (2) and being so far removed from our roots that “Little we see in Nature that is ours” (3).  Wordsworth exposes us as once being spiritual creatures with a place in nature, but through our modern day delusions “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (4). Wordsworth describes how we have ceased to be the divine vessels we once were when we worshiped nature.  Humanity, in essence, has become, to William Wordsworth, a spiritual shell who slaves towards empty and shallow ends. 

     The following lines of William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us” are emotionally powerful images of vivacious and uninhibited wild nature pouring their hearts into their passions: “(the) Sea that bares her bosom to the moon” (5) and “the winds that will be howling at all hours” (6).  William Wordsworth, in a sort of fantasy that many, even today, dream of returning to, describes how he wishes he had been raised a Pagan of an ancient religion, “suckled in a creed outworn” (10), where he could be a part of that magical world, glimpsing from a vast field the Sea Gods rising from the ocean, “(to) Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; / Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn” (13-14).

     Though written in the 19th century, William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us” bares a message as meaningful today, if not more so, as it was two hundred years ago.  The theme of the poem is so similar to the naturalist’s philosophy of today, that it’s amazing that this is actually something written over two hundred years ago.  To a modern reader, it’s almost impossible to think that William Wordsworth, a poet from the eighteen-hundreds, could actually be thinking in a way that was considered radically progressive less than half a century ago.  In many ways, it’s a common bond that the spiritually restless can share in their hopes for a life outside modern society.  Unfortunately, it also shows just how much further mankind has fallen from the natural grace they once possessed, and how unlikely it is that they will ever return.

     William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us” is an incredibly romantic sonnet.  Through its passionate imagery and primal message, Wordsworth reaches across centuries to touch the imagination and latent dreams of readers even today.  It’s amazing to think that the human longing to return to a simpler, more spiritual time could actually be so universal.  It’s for this reason that Wordsworth’s prose could be whispered on the lips of naturalists today just as easily as they could be sung for the centuries to come.

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