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Summary of "The World is Too Much with Us" by William Wordsworth.no

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nirmalika | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 31, 2009 at 7:55 PM via web

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Summary of "The World is Too Much with Us" by William Wordsworth.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted November 1, 2009 at 4:02 AM (Answer #1)

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This sonnet is a strong critical comment on the increasing hold of industrialisation and urbanisation on the life of man at the turn of the 19th century. The word 'world' in the opening line signifies the world of sheer materialism that has abandoned nature.

This world is one of commercialism and economism, of 'getting and spending' i.e. earning money in all possible ways and spending money for the pleasures of materialism. In the process all our powers get wasted. We have disconnected ourselves from nature; for us , the machine and the money are the new gods. Wordsworth looks upon the 'boon' of materialism as 'sordid'--the oxymoronical 'sordid boon' suggesting the paradox of progress in the modern world.

The poet, a great worshipper of nature, regards himself 'a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn' i.e. a person brought up in an ancient religion. He would stand on the meadow--reminiscent of the old days of the pastoral--and look at the sea-god rising from the water.

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted March 9, 2011 at 11:44 PM (Answer #2)

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I can answer this not line by line, but every couple/few lines .  And keep in mind this was written in 1807, NOT in this day and age.  Looking at it now we could really tie in a lot of technology that takes us away from nature.

The first four lines shows how the fast-paced Industrialized West was not taking time to appreciate nature.  "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers" says that we are too materialistic; we waste our opportunities to love and respect nature and all that it holds.  We just earn and spend on a daily basis.

The next four lines describe the aspects of nature that we take for granted every day.  We ignore the breezes and the winds that surround us each day.  We don't appreciate the sea and all the power and beauty that it holds.  Because of this he says, "we are out of tune; it moves us not."  Most people just don't "get it."

The first link explains the ending for you.  Wordsworth would rather be a Pagan--one who worships nature--than one of the many individuals who passes through life without realizing the love and passion that nature holds for us.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 31, 2009 at 9:01 PM (Answer #3)

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This poem is actually a sonnet by William Wordsworth.  Written in the Romantic thematic style, there are many elements which make it distinctive to Wordsworth's beliefs and systems.  From the opening lines, the speaker seeks to create a realm where individuals are able to perceive and "see" reality and nature without the clouded lens of society and social connection.  This notion of sight is directly identified in line 3 with the line, "Little we see in Nature that is ours."  The poem continues to explore this idea of being able to strip away the vision in front of the speaker, the socially determined and dictated view of the world, and seek a vision that is closer to the "good, the true, and the beautiful" notion of the world.  In striving for this vision, the speaker suggests that one has to move away from conformity and socially driven conceptions, and seek out a more individualistic one that is closer to the "truer" sense of nature.

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