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What is the "sordid  boon" in Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us?"

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tapusss | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:45 PM via web

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What is the "sordid  boon" in Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2011 at 9:49 AM (Answer #1)

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The following line appears in William Wordsworth's poem "The World is Too Much With Us":

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Sordid refers to something which is dirty, vile, or selfish. Boon is something that is beneficial, helpful, or considered a blessing.

The use of the two in conjunction form an oxymoron. (An oxymoron is "a figure of speech in which two contradictory words or phrases are combined to produce a rhetorical effect by means of a concise paradox." The definition is taken from eNotes.)

The use of the words sordid boon create the same effect which Wordsworth uplifts in the poem itself--one of nature and man contrasted against each other. When mankind focuses too much energy on possessing things, they fail to see Nature in all of its beauty.

Therefore, the "sordid boom" is the fact that mankind is constantly involved in a game of "tug-of-war" (depicted by the oxymoron and contrast derived from the words) with the quest for possessions and the appreciation of nature. Given that there is "little we see in Nature that is ours," man (in a search for materialistic wealth) must look away from nature for possessions.

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