What is the theme of "The World Is Too Much with Us," and what other poem can you suggest that shares the same theme?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a difficult question. It seems doubtful that there would be othre poems that carry the same theme as Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much with Us." In this poem, Wordsworth laments the disconnection of humanity from the beauties and strength of the natural world. But more than this, he blames those who embrace the Christian faith of becoming callous and causing this disconnect between humanity and nature. Yet, Wordsworth takes this one step further and denounces the callousness and claims he prefers paganism to what was for him callous Christianity, since pagans at least worship nature and recognize divine beings as in-dwelling elements of nature. A short expression of this theme might be: nature re-found in paganism versus nature disregarded in Christianity. I don't recall any other poems that make such claims and assertions as Wordsworth's thematic call to paganism makes:

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

One poem written by another Romantic period poet, however, does laud what he sees of paganism, though for another reason and in another scenario. John Keats wrote "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and praised the Grecian pagan scene he saw painted thereon. Keats was discussing the figures frozen in time on their way to a sacrifice to bless a nuptial that will never be consummated. Indirectly, he is rejoicing in the paganism that is represented by the pictured sacrificial ceremony. While admiring this pagan scene, Keats is actually commenting on the irony of the joyful scene because these frozen pagan figures "know" (i.e., represent) only that "'Beauty is truth, and truth is beauty.'" The irony is that while this is all they do "know," in their frozen unconsummated state it is also all they need to know.

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

So while Wordsworth would rather be a pagan, Keats seem content to leave his pagans in an innocent undisturbed state because, by inference, he needs to know much more than they do.

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