What is the meaning of the beginning phrase "The world is too much with us" in the poem "The World is Too Much with Us" by William Wordsworth?  

The meaning of the opening phrase "The world is too much with us" by William Wordsworth reflects the human dependence on consumerism and materialistic efforts. The speaker is dismayed that mankind's power is wasted in such efforts and thus takes little notice of the more beautiful aspects of the natural world.

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When Wordsworth says that "The world is too much with us," he is setting "the world" in opposition to to other sources of value, which he regards as more meaningful. Although Wordsworth's religious views were unusual, he had a sufficiently Christian attitude to see "the world" as a contrast to the church, the soul, philosophy, the contemplative life, and spiritual values in general, as well as a peaceful appreciation of nature. This is why he refers to "Getting and spending" in the following line. The acquisition of money and property is the chief preoccupation of "the world." The second line, therefore, is an explanation of the first. The chief reason that we are harmed by the world being too much with us is that we waste our time (and our powers) grasping at material things.

Worldliness sets us "out of tune" with the physical world, which is also a world of things. These, however, are things we cannot buy, but must learn to appreciate and enjoy. Wordsworth's reference to "A Pagan...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 813 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 2, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 4, 2020
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