The World Is Too Much with Us Questions and Answers
by William Wordsworth

Start Your Free Trial

Identify the meter and rhyme scheme of "The World is Too Much With Us," by William Wordsworth. I am leaning towards the assumption that this is a traditional Italian sonnet but am not quite sure, any help would be appreciated :)

Expert Answers info

Pauline Sheehan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write2,388 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Math, and Social Sciences

In all his poetry, Wordsworth strives to reach out to the ordinary people. His individuality and style had purposeful intent and he 

sought nothing less than the revitalization of poetry and literature in the lives of common men and women.

Your identification of the poem as Italian is correct in so much as it meets the basic structure.The problem is presented in the first eight lines which meet the traditional metric and rhyme schemes (abba abba). However, the sestet, whilst presenting the solution, instead of continuiung with a conventional octave-sestet structure launches into a series of rhyming couplets (cdcdcd) which is not unknown but certainly less common. 

This also ensures that the reader - almost interrupted by this change in rhythm - can gain a better appreciation of the poem and ultimately be released from a reverie and an acceptance of life as it is, providing a platform from which to

reconsider the basis of their transcendent faith and their despair at reclaiming nature for their own purposes.

Furthermore, it seems that the octave continues into the 9th line:

...Great God! I'd rather be

and the sestet only begins with the "I'd rather..." which shows Wordsworth's own style. Again it meets the traditional Italian sonnet as the change is apparent, even if not at the beginning of the line.  

For the most part, The World is Too Much with Us is in iambic pentameter, which means that each line contains five (pent) feet or groups that contain an unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable (in that order). For example, in line 10:

A Pa-gan suck-led in a creed out-worn.


check Approved by eNotes Editorial