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In many ways a continuation of his image in Ode: Intimations of Immortality and other works, Wordsworth is lamenting the loss of connection between human life and the natural environment that he came from. Romanticism was in many ways a revolt against the eighteenth-century Age of Reason (“Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers”), a plea to return to Nature’s beauty, strength, and endurance. The images of the “Sea that bares her bosom to the moon” (an example of personification) now quiet in repose, the rhythms of Nature, go unnoticed now by us and do not move us. In earlier, ancient times (“a Pagan suckled in a creed outworn”), people treated the forces of Nature like gods, and observed the forces of, for example, the Sea. He then personifies the tempests of the sea as the god Proteus “rising” and the sounds of the windswept sea as the god Triton blowing “his wreathed horn.” So by remembering the ancient Greek and Roman homage to the sea, and comparing it to our indifference to the sea’s moods now, Wordsworth underlines the cause of his “lament”—“Little we see in Nature that is ours.” The mood of the sonnet is that of an aging man lamenting days gone by—not unlike an old codger missing his youth, only here the “old codger” is Man himself, completely won over by Earth’s charms, forgetting his beginnings.
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