In this paper, I will analyze the poem “The world is too much with us” by William Wordsworth. This poem kept my attention since the first I time I read it because of its message. It is a critique poem, it criticizes sociologically the emerging social behavior of the modern societies. The author was influenced by the social context of the time he was writing the poem.
This poem is a sort of call of attention to the population because the people are forgetting the most important values of the human beings. Throughout this paper, I will first introduce the author and his background, next analyze the title, the theme and all the subjects related to the poem, and in the end the theoretical analysis of the poem for instance the symbols, the figures of speech and the structure used by the author in the poem.
“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 every thing, 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 wreathèd horn.
To analyze the poem it is requested first to understand the author’s life and background. Like stated in the following passage, “William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland, in 1770 and died at the age of eighty” CITATION Cha18 \l 1033 (Eager). He lived eighty years and left a legacy on English poetry.
He wrote this poem when he was 32 years old, in 1802, and published it in 1807. It was sort of explosion of emotions regarding the consequences of the industrial revolution on people’s way of life in the cities and also in the rural areas where machines replace the hand working job. Connection with Nature has lost. The daily routine, accelerate and most people went live near the industries to work. England, at the time, was constantly changing, innovative ideas bringing new machines and tools, new factories opening and new railroads and all these need people to work on them CITATION And19 \l 1033 (Spacey).
The author was sensitive to all changes occurring in the society and he stop to make his reflection about it. Although most of people did not about the situation and their only focus was work, a phenomenon that can be compared to our recent reality. Clearly portrayed in this passage, “Whole families would end up working in the mills and mines. This was a rapid and irreversible change, perhaps equivalent to the digital and globalization revolution of more recent times” CITATION And19 \l 1033 (Spacey).
The title “the world is too much with us” can have various interpretations. I will give my two different perspectives that it in my view can be analyzed. The first one is that the world is tired of us (humans) and our presence on it is just to destroy it or take profit from it. In the second one, I understood that the speaker is trying to show us that our ‘world’ or what we care is the opposite of what we should care, we only care about materialistic things, money and power. Thus, that is our world for the speaker perspective.
The theme portrayed in this poem in my perspective has to do with human values and the treatment of nature by humans. The human values are being lost because of the selfishness that exists in the modern societies. As I analyzed in the title people tend to care more with money, material wealth and power. This has to do also with the increasing of capitalist societies since the industrial revolution. Capitalism brings the ‘love’ to money and consequently materialism.
“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers” in this line the speaker want to call attention to greed. We tend to forget that we are all human beings and we need to look for each other. People only help others seeking for something in return. Like is written on the poem “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” the speaker emphasizes that humans are not following our hearts in their choices.
The other part is concerned about the nature or the environment. The author highlighted the word nature on the poem putting it in capital letter. “Little we see in Nature that is ours;” the speaker intends to show how humans are not appreciating the beauties of our nature, instead of enjoying it that is free and available for everyone we concern about futile things and possessions.
On the following lines the speaker gives human qualities to some parts of nature to get the reader feel touched by nature for instance: “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;”. Then, the speaker gives a kind of shout of despair to make the reader realize that humans must change their approach to nature: “For this, for everything, we are out of tune;” humans should be connected with nature and without it we cannot live.
Next, the speaker shows its position regarding the disinterest of people in nature: “Great God! I’d rather be” “A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;” it shows an admiration for the ancient people and religion that were more attentive and mindful of what surround them than the people of its era. It finishes like dreaming, the perfect place where he would gaze the sea and be connected with nature: “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,” “Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;” The speaker prefers this contact with nature like it used to be in those ancient societies where they would see the sea as something meaningful not just a simple place.
These “glimpses” of nature are like happiness for the speaker. Finally, the poem ends with a clear admiration of the speaker to the sea, showing its preference for the ancient religion citing two ancient gods (Greeks) and how they used to delight the sea. “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;” “Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.” From its perspective the sea or nature is something divine and not just the denotative or superficial meaning that it has in its era.
In this poems many subjects were covered though its size. Within the poem we can find subjects like human values, nature, materialism, greed, selfishness and capitalism. The two first one’s are those are those that the speaker alert the reader as the two subjects that are being undervalued, however, they should be more valued in order to have the proper importance.
The remaining subjects are those that speaker alerts the readers to avoid these behaviors or bad qualities. The speaker empathize that if those subjects are the one that people are following he would like to be born on ancient times or live like they used to in the past. He refuses to practice such ideals or behaviors, because they don’t bring happiness to life or any hope.
Nature – The word nature is the central theme of the poem and an important symbol in the poem. The word is written in capital letter to emphasize its importance. The speaker shows a sadness feeling to people’s attitude towards nature.
The sea – It may have the same connotation as nature in the poem, still, it has its particularity. It gives more particular meaning to nature, more specific, the sea is characterized as the physical part of nature. As we can see in the poem: “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;”
Pagan – This word symbolizes the ancients’ way of life. Or simply unchristian people that were more connected and moved with nature. People with more steady life, connected with each other and capable of admire what nature provide us.
Figures of Speech
Line 5 has Personification – “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;”- the sea becoming a woman, further evidence is that the speaker refers Mother Nature.
Line 6 has Assonance – “The winds that will be howling”
Line 7 has a Metonymy – “are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;” here the speaker compares the wind to sleeping flowers.
Line 8 has a metaphor – “we are out of tune;” the speaker uses the word “tune” to highlight that people are not following the rhythm, this rhythm is the expected connection of people with nature that did not exist.
Type of poetry – Lyric poem and a sonnet;
Metre – Iambic pentameter
Syllabic metre – Decasyllabic
Rhyme scheme – 14 lines with an unusual scheme of abbaabbacdcdcd
To conclude my analyze, I will sum up my understanding of the poem make this brief comparison of the theme in nowadays context as mentioned before. Through the analysis of this sonnet I realize that spend some time thinking in our behaviors or actions is something that should be done by everyone. If we don’t care for ourselves nobody will. The speaker spread this message through the sonnet, he meant that people should be mindful and enjoy the simple gifts that are provided to us. We cannot let that greed or materialism take off our human spirit. We are not alone in this world, thus, we should live harmony with each other. Greed and materialism will bring only bad consequences for the expected interaction between us.
This poem could clearly fit in nowadays society. Since the emerging of globalization, the world become as is portrayed on the poem. Nowadays, people tend to care more about their material wealth than anything else. People could spend weeks, months and years without their family or friends but never without their phones for instance. Now is even worse than back then because people in the same house don’t even talk to each other.
The electronic devices and internet let people more lazy and superficial on their thoughts. If we spend most of our time connected to these devices how can we be an attentive person, realize what is happening around us or simply adore nature that is a gift to all of us? Nature is a source for us to get what we want and we don’t care about the implications or the consequences that this act. In my perspective, this sonnet should be a ‘bible’ for everyone because we are humans and we should care ourselves and for the Mother Nature.
Eager, Charles. “The society of classical poets” . 6 October 2018. 5 june 2019 <classicalpoets.org/2018/10/06/the-eight-greatest-poems-of-william-wordsworth/>.
Spacey, Andrew. “Owlcation” . 27 January 2019. 2 June 2019 <owlcation.com/humanities/Summary-And-Analysis-Of-The-World-Is-Too-Much-With-Us-By-William-Wordsworth>.
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