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Please explain these lines from "The World Is Too Much With Us": The winds that will be...

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 8, 2013 at 4:57 PM via web

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Please explain these lines from "The World Is Too Much With Us":

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;

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 8, 2013 at 5:42 PM (Answer #1)

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When the speaker (or Wordsworth) writes that the "world is too much with us" he means that the world is too bogged down with institutions, organizations, industrialization, and the repetitive buying and selling ("Getting and spending"), which structure daily life. This is to say that people have become too mechanical and rigid. In other words, people are wasting their "powers" and they've ceased to genuinely experience life: 

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 

Therefore, being caught up in our daily habits of buying, selling, working, etc., we have forgotten to notice Nature's grandeur and our place in it. We have forgotten to notice the ebb and flow of the sea in relation to the moon. We hear the wind but we ignore its song. We gather its song up "like sleeping flowers" as if it were lifeless. Again, being caught up in the "getting and spending" of life, we have come to be out of tune with Nature: out of tune with the song of the winds. We ignore or no longer notice this tune: "It moves us not." 

The speaker then claims that he'd rather be a Pagan with a more primitive philosophical outlook than ascribe to the institutions (social, economic, and even religious) of modern daily life. The speaker would rather return to a more natural, imaginative, and even ancient outlook where he might have thoughts of mythical characters: symbols which are more connected to the imagination and Nature itself. 

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