What is meaning of the line " for this, for everything we are out of tune''??

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The speaker of the sonnet is standing on a promontory looking at the ocean. He sees the beauty of "This sea that bares her bosom to the moon" and that of "The winds that will be howling at all hours and are upgathered now like sleeping flowers (e.g. quiet)." He reflects that people generally, including himself, have lost their ability to appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature because they are always worried about money. "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers." We are out of tune, or out of harmony, or out of sympathy, with nature.

Wordsworth himself was having serious financial problems, and he must have felt that having to think about making money and paying bills was preventing him from doing the one thing that was most important to him, which was writing poetry. He had recently gotten married, and his wife was having babies in quick succession. I believe he had two small children in his tiny cottage at the time, and both of them had hooping cough. Altogether his wife had five children in a very short time period. One can imagine how difficult it would have been to write in such a household. He was the only breadwinner of the family, and was trying to support himself, his wife, his sister, and his children by writing poetry!!! Naturally, a man with so many kids would have to do a lot of "getting and spending." A lot of freelance writers can identify with Wordsworth. It is hard to be creative and plagued with financial worries at the same time. In the New Testament Jesus says: "No man can serve two masters....You cannot serve God and Mammon."

Wordsworth did most of his writing in his head while walking outdoors. He had to get away from his cottage in order to be able to think. Maybe this explains why he was always writing about nature and the outdoors. They probably moved to the Lake Country because it was much cheaper living in the country than in the big city.


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