illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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Can the theme of nature be used to describe a Wordsworth poem?

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If you're asking whether you can use the theme of nature to describe one of William Worsworth's poems, then the answer is a resounding YES. Wordsworth was the quintessential Romantic writer, and one of the primary characteristics of the Romantics was their love for nature and rejection of contemporary society. Wordsworth was no different. In order to reject a contemporary society that he saw to be corrupt and disingenuous, Wordsworth embraced the natural world, taking it to be a more authentic mode of existence.

To understand how this idea works in Wordsworth's poetry, it's helpful to look at one of his most famous poems, "The World is Too Much With Us." In this poem, Wordsworth provides one of his most vehement rejections of Industrial-Age England, as he yearns for a more natural, simpler time governed by Mother Nature. For instance, in lines 2 and 3, Wordsworth says, "Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—/ Little we see in Nature that is ours." In these lines, Wordsworth basically states that civilized society has turned humanity into greedy, soulless beings more concerned with "getting" the latest fashionable product or "spending" exorbitant sums of money on frivolous consumer goods. After reflecting on several moving images of nature, Wordsworth proclaims possibly his most radical lines ever, saying, "Great God! I’d rather be/ A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn" (9-10). By making this statement, Wordsworth rejects the corruption of modern Christian society, asserting that it would be better to return to the pagan cultures of the past that worshipped the Earth and nature (pretty radical words for a 19th century Englishman). This statement is one of the most forceful examples of the importance of nature in Wordsworth's work, and it's worth reading the poem in full to get a comprehensive understanding of its natural themes. 

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