The World Is Too Much with Us Questions and Answers

William Wordsworth

Read real teacher answers to our most interesting The World Is Too Much with Us questions.

What does Wordsworth mean by "the winds that will be howling at all hours"?

This line is particularly effective because of the assonance of the "ow" sounds in "howling" and "hours." It's also powerful because of the contrast between the calm winds at present—"up-gathered like sleeping flowers"—and their usual howling. The speaker of this poem feels besieged and unable to appreciate the beauty and power of nature because the modern world has left him "out of tune." It's interesting to consider Wordsworth's own situation at the time of the poem's publication. Wordsworth was under great financial pressure: he had only recently married, and his wife had given birth to three children. His sister Dorothy also lived with them in their small cottage. Wordsworth was the sole breadwinner, and he composed much of his poetry outside the house while walking in nature. We might speculate that some of the speaker's distress here is Wordsworth's own: an appreciation for natural beauty and the poetry of nature wars with practical realities and the cares of the modern world that are always "too much with us." His struggle is one many can still relate to; to many of us, Wordsworth and his wife and sister could lead a simple life compared with the way many people live today with their automobiles, television, computers, medical insurance, and all the other things they either need or want. When the speaker of the poem says he would rather be a pagan, he is perhaps thinking that he would like to have a really simple life—one without financial pressures and complexities. If his financial situation was critical, the situation of millions of young couples raising children today is chaotic. A lot of busy people must be thinking that they would rather give up all their possessions just to have peace of mind and to be able to call their souls their own.