The World Is Too Much with Us

by William Wordsworth

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The World Is Too Much With Us Literary Devices

What are some poetic devices used in "The World is Too Much With Us" that enhance the meaning of the poem?

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In "The World is Too Much With Us," Wordsworth uses a number of literary devices to reinforce his key ideas. The setting of the poem, for example, is important because it creates an idyllic and romantic view of nature. Here, in an undisclosed location by the sea, Wordsworth encourages the reader to enjoy nature and all she has to offer.

In addition, Wordsworth employs an oxymoron in the fourth line of the poem when he mentions a "sordid boon." The word "boon' means a blessing or an asset but the word "sordid" suggests something seedy or unsavory. This is significant because it reinforces his belief that people have wrongly abandoned nature, in favor of more materialistic pursuits.

Finally, Wordsworth uses personification to bring nature to life in the poem. The sea, for instance, "bares her bosom to the moon" which implies that natures is there, waiting for us to appreciate her beauty. As such, Wordsworth uses personification like a call to action, encouraging his reader to reconnect with nature. 

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The overall meaning of the poem is that people are too concerned with superficial matters of the world, and not enough with what really matters.  We are too focused on "getting and spending" and as we do, we "lay waste our powers", or our power to reach our beautiful potential as human beings is wasted.

There is personification in the poem (giving objects human-like traits).  Wordsworth says that the "Sea that bares her bosom to the moon", "the winds that will be howling at all hours", and "sleeping flowers".  All of this makes nature seem human, real, suffering, sleeping, vulnerable.  And, to all of nature's beauty, Wordsworth says that we have become "out of tune."

There are also allusions (references to other stories or figures) when he refers to "Proteus rising from the sea" and "Triton blow[ing] his wreathed horn".  This brings up greek myths that can imply everything about the stories themselves in just a few words.  He is saying he would rather believe in these "pagan" gods so that he might at least be in tune with nature, rather than being "moved...not" by it as we are now.

Those are just a couple devices to get you started.  I also provided a link to a more thorough discussion of the poem itself.  I hope this helped!

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