The World Is Too Much With Us Theme

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The poem you are referring to was written by William Wordsworth in 1807.  Its main theme is the idea that we modern people have become disconnectd and alienated from the world of nature.  He argues that we would be happier if we were more connected to that world.

Wordsworth claims that we are too interested in "getting and spending" and that being obsessed with those things, we have "given our hearts away."

He thinks that it would be better to be a pagan than a modern person because at least then he could be more in tune with nature.


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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The main theme of this poem is the deadening effect of materialism in the modern world, as encapsulated in the line: "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers." The poet laments this state of affairs and longs to turn his face away from what he sees as the soulless materialism of his time, to an earlier time when people were more attuned to nature and all its wonders and beauties. To this end, indeed, he declares himself as a kind of pagan, worshiping nature in all its forms.  He ascribes to nature a vibrant spirit and life that is lacking in the modern world, the world of cities and commerce. His feeling of awe and reverence for nature can be labelled pantheism.

The poet is aware that his ideals might appear old-fashioned ("a creed outworn") but that doesn't bother him. Clearly he is deeply depressed and dissatisfied with contemporary life and longs for the comfort that the mystical beliefs of an earlier time would afford him, and make him "less forlorn." He wants to re-discover the sense of wonder in nature that he thinks people used to have, as seen in his invocation of the old nature deities, the sea-gods Proteus and Triton. 

In Wordsworth's time - that is to say, the last decades of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth -  there was an ever-increasing tendency to explain natural phenomena in practical, scientific terms. For Wordsworth and others of a similar romantic temperament, this meant the loss of a sense of wonder and enchantment about the world - an enchantment which he himself wanted to retain at all costs.

subrataray's profile pic

subrataray | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Wordsworth’s emotion found free display in Nature .He was akin to Rousseau’s theory of Return to Nature .The present poem is the poet’s advocacy to the city-bred people for setting a harmonious relationship with Nature .The poet in Wordsworth was pre occupied with the idea that our remaining away from Nature is proportion to our growing artificiality. The poet is so much fascinated by the spell of nature that he declares to be a pagan rather than a Christian.

  Perhaps unconsciously the poet stamps on him the label of natural.

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