July 17, 2009

Poetry Friday--"The World Is Too Much With Us"

Photo by neil1877

There is a tendency on my part to dismiss the poets who I was forced to read in college English lit courses. The funny thing is, though, bits and pieces of some of them have the ability to speak to me today as a citizen of the 21st century. Take for example, these first four lines from "The World Is Too Much With Us" by William Wordsworth:
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!
How could Wordsworth have foreseen a time in which we would be obsessed with consumerism, thus damning ourselves with our shameful waste of the natural world? Am I reading something into the poem that isn't there? Perhaps, but the next few lines reinforce our apparent disregard for nature:
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God!
"Great God!" He should have stopped with those two words. Unfortunately, the poem goes on and there it falls apart for me. Here is the poem in its entirety for you to judge for yourself.
The World Is Too Much With Us

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!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreath├Ęd horn.

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Becky's Book Reviews.

1 comment:

  1. For me, when he gets to the part about "I'd rather be a Pagan" he's talking about how even religion can be too much with us and how it filters out some really cool ways that we could be interacting with nature.

    Love this poem! Thanks for the reminder!

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