The World is Too Much With Us: Poem - Summary

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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 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 at Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


      The World is Too Much With Us, composed probably in 1806, and first published in 1807, Wordsworth deplores the extreme materialism and the consequent spiritual degradation of his times. Men are actuated only by economic motives. They have become too materialistic. People are too much engrossed in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure and waste their energies in so doing instead of turning them to better advantages. They have given themselves up, heart and soul, to the pursuit of paltry material prosperity. Their mind is so much obsessed with material gain that they fail to appreciate the beauties of Nature. For his own part, the poet would rather be a pagan with his keen sensitiveness to the mysteries and beauties of Nature than lead the modern pseudo-enlightened life of materialism. In a word, he prefers paganism to excessive materialism.

      Wordsworth’s love of nature was boundless. A profound religious feeling pervades all his nature poetry. Nature was for him the embodiment of the Divine Spirit, and when he insists that nature is the greatest of all teachers, he means that between the indwelling soul of the Universe and the soul of Man, which is akin to it, spiritual communion is possible, through which we may gain constantly in power, peace and happiness. This sonnet invites comparison with (1) Written in London—September, 1802 and (2) the sonnet addressed To Milton.

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