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In the poem "The World Is Too Much with Us" is the speaker standing on the "lea," or...

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beowulfjr | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 30, 2010 at 10:45 PM via web

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In the poem "The World Is Too Much with Us" is the speaker standing on the "lea," or does he just wish he were?

The World Is Too Much with Us" by William Wordsworth

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 10:51 PM (Answer #1)

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In my opinion, it is pretty clear that he is actually standing in the lea rather than being some other place and wishing he was in the lea.

The reason that I say this is because of the actual way he phrases the line.  He says "standing on this pleasant lea."  I think that the word "this" is what proves it.  It is not like he has been talking about a meadow up until now, so why would he say "this" if he were not actually there?

If he were not there, I would think he would say "standing on some pleasant lea" or something like that.

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM (Answer #2)

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The tenth line of Wordsworth's sonnet "The World is too much with Us" reads,

"So might I, standing on this pleasant lea"

It is very plain that Wordsworth is standing on the meadow. He does not wish that he was. He describes what he sees, actually standing on the grassy and agreeable meadow.

From this vantage point Wordsworth looks at the captivating sight of the tranquil and still sea with the winds having quietened down and the moon casting its silvery light on it.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:40 PM (Answer #3)

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The speaker in "The World Is Too Much With Us" is certainly standing on the lea (meadow). 

His view from the lea contrasts what a pagan, or a lover of nature, might see from this spot with what a contemporary (contemporary to the speaker) Christian does not see in spots like this, if he/she would even bother to be in a spot like this.   

In terms of importance, the contrast places traditional religious belief below an awareness and love of nature.  Better to be a Pagan in tune with nature, than a Christian oblivious to nature.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:44 PM (Answer #4)

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The lea, on which the speaker is clearly standing, is the focal point from which his observations emanate in William Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much with Us."  For, it is from this point that the controlling metaphor comes: the world with its debilitating system that limits the perceptions of the heart causes people to become "out of tune."  But, the sea and the winds seen from this lea can liberate people from their "world-weariness."  In Nature, people can free their spirits and open their consciousness of what is truly valuable in life:

...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....

A Romantic who believed in the beauty and value of Nature, Wordsworth attacks the superficiality and conventionality promoted by the world that is absorbed in "getting and spending."  Indeed, Wordsworth's poem is yet very relevant today.

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