"The World Is Too Much With Us"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Wordsworth's poetry constantly posits a concern with the relationship between the inner life of man and the outward life of the world of nature. It is his fundamental conviction that human happiness is to be found only when the "discerning intellect of man" is "wedded to this goodly universe in love and holy passion." In effect, man must maintain a sensitivity to the beauty and power of nature for the sake of his spiritual well-being. Thus, it is understandable that the poet, on numerous occasions, condemns the materialism which, in blinding man to the splendor of his environment, makes him captive to his own avarice. In another sonnet ("London, 1802") he warns that inward happiness is inevitably forfeited to the unmitigated pursuit of material comfort, that man's greatest enemy is the temptation to sacrifice his moral values for the sake of popularity or profit. Here, asserting that he would "rather be/ A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn" than a Christian insensitive to the voice of nature, he writes:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!