The World Is Too Much with Us by William Wordsworth

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In "The World Is Too Much With Us," what are the glimpses that make the poet “less forlorn”?

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Having established his central theme in the first half of the poem, that by avariciously pursuing material well-being and possessions we have placed a barrier between ourselves and Nature, Wordsworth changes the tone of the poem towards the end, saying boldly that he would rather be a pagan than lose himself to the continual thirst for money and possessions. In Wordsworth's thinking, pagans had a far healthier relationship than the people of his time, respecting and worshipping nature. Thus advocating their creed would enable him to have "glimpses" of Nature in all its majesty that would enable Wordsworth to become "less forlorn" than he is at the moment when he feels he is cut off or divided from Nature. Note how the mythological references of the last two lines reinforce this idea:

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Note how the use of mythology here dramatises the connection to nature. These deliberate allusions create a desire for a time when people were in greater awe of nature and lived "in tune" with it.

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This poem, a sonnet by William Wordsworth, fits into the Romantic tradition and utilizes numerous tenets common to Romantic literature: classical allusions, a personification of the natural elements ("this Sea that bares her bosom to the moon") and a preoccupation with Nature in general ("little we see in Nature that is ours," underlying the fact that man cannot hope to own the land he inhabits). The tone of the poem is melancholy and anxious; indeed, "out of tune." Many others of Wordsworth's poems are concerned with emotion derived from nature, and of being moved by nature, so his frustration here at being unmoved by his surroundings—"it moves us not"—can be viewed in the light of the rest of his body of work. The speaker is feeling frustrated, despite the beauty of the world around him.

What makes him feel "less forlorn" in this state, then, is a hearkening back to the past; the poet states that he would rather be "a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn," such that he might glimpse the great gods of the past, "Proteus rising from the sea," or "Triton blow[ing] his wreathed horn."

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