The world is too much with us; late and soon
William Wordsworth’s sonnet “The World Is Too Much with Us; Late and Soon” addresses the loss of nature in a consumerist society. Nature is a common theme in Wordsworth’s work and in his sonnet he addresses the diminishing connection to nature he experiences due to consumerism.
Wordsworth’s sonnet is introduced with a juxtaposition of consumerism and nature. “Getting and spending, we lay waste to our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours” (1-2) Wordsworth compares obtaining and spending to nature because nature cannot be owned regardless of the price. The juxtaposition illustrates the purity of nature in its inability to be owned and the greed of consumerism in its drive to own all. The word “power” in first line is a reference to the connection through nature that is lost by acquiring and spending. Wordsworth specifically capitalizes the word nature in the middle of the sentence to illustrate its importance in a consumerist society. Though things in nature might be obtained or even used by man, they will always belong to nature.
Upset by the loss of his connection to nature, Wordsworth exclaims, “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (3) This exclamation shows that through excessive consumerism man has given away its heart, the life sustaining force within, which Wordsworth says is a filthy blessing. Wordsworth uses the word sordid which means dirty or filthy, next to the word boon which means a blessing, to illustrate the dirtiness of consumerism in comparison to the blessing purity of nature.
Wordsworth continues by demonstrating that through mankind’s growing greed, both nature and men have been thrown out of sync, “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.” (5-8) Wordsworth clearly states that man is out of tune with nature and that the beauty of nature can no longer move the human soul. When the celestial light of nature is doused by the greed of consumerism, nature fails to move mankind emotionally. This severely upsets Wordsworth and the poet cries out, “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” (9-11) To say such an audacious statement in 1888 evokes shock and Wordsworth uses this shock to illustrate the severity of his plight. The creed outworn referred to by Wordsworth is the Christian tradition that has failed to provide a solution to his problem. Wordsworth would do anything to reconnect to nature, even if that meant the certain persecution of becoming a Pagan in the late 1800’s.
The final two lines of Wordsworth’s sonnet conclude with the final warning,
“Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathčd horn” (12-13) Wordsworth makes an allusion to the Greek God Proteus to symbolize the transforming power of nature while referring to Triton, the messenger of the deep, to symbolize the sound of his warning. Wordsworth illustrates through his sonnet that while man is consistently surrounded by material goods and possessions, it is nature in its purity and inability to be owned that the soul is truly inspired.
Like crack with cinnamon
I just read this poem not too long ago.
Wordsworth was a great poet of his time.