Lines Written in Early Spring "What Man Has Made Of Man"

William Wordsworth

"What Man Has Made Of Man"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Dismayed by the materialism of his contemporaries in England, and appalled by the horrors of the French Revolution, Wordsworth often brooded on the contrast between the world of external Nature which he loved so deeply, and the man-made world of moral and religious decay, political opportunism, laboring-class exploitation, and civil strife. Such a contrast is found in "Lines Written in Early Spring." Sitting in a grove, the poet listens pleasurably to the "blended notes" of Nature's world, and "sad thoughts" come to his mind. Since the beauties of Nature are linked to man's soul, he is grieved to recall what man has done to his fellows. The world about him seems so joyous that he is led to believe in a conscious joy in the life of natural objects. If he is right, he asks, has he not reason to lament what man has done? Stanzas two and six follow:

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
. . .
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?