The World Is Too Much with Us by William Wordsworth

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Who were Proteus and Trito, as referenced in Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us"?

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William Wordsworth's sonnet "The World is Too Much with Us" meditates on the way the modern world (early 1800s) is overly commercialized, causing humans to become separate from nature. Wordsworth sees all the "getting and spending" as a "waste" of humanity's true purpose. He finds meaning in nature but laments that his fellow humans "have given [their] hearts away" to a lesser entity (materialism, modernity, economic gain).

In the middle of the poem, Wordsworth brings in natural imagery and figurative language to re-establish a connection between man and nature. In describing, in turn, "this...

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Wordsworth refers to the ancient Greek gods Proteus and Triton in his poem "The World Is Too Much With Us." In the Odyssey, Homer describes Proteus as a prophetic sea god who will only divulge the secrets of the future by being held fast. However, he keeps changing his shape to free himself, and when Menelaus holds him in the Odyssey, he changes into a lion, a serpent, a leopard, and even a body of water. In modern times, his name is used as the adjective protean, meaning changeable. Triton was also a Greek sea god, the son of Poseidon, and a messenger of the sea. The theme of the poem is that humanity in 19th century England has lost touch with nature, and Wordsworth evokes the Greek gods to recall nature's importance.