William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

English 102


William Wordsworth, a poet from England, was the leading poet of the Romantic Movement in England. Wordsworth has written many poems and also collaborated on some too, with other leading poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge. William Wordsworth born on April 7, 1770 at Cockermouth on the River Derwent, in the heart of the lake district that he would come to be a legend in his poetry. William, son of the lawyer John Wordsworth was the second of five kids. William had three brothers and one sister. At a young age William was faced with hardship because after his sister was born his mother died leaving five kids alone to just his father. When that happened William and his three brothers were sent to a boarding school in Hawksheard, England, only to never be reunited with his sisters or father. Williamís hard life has influenced his technique when writing poems, within his style, imagery, structure, and cultural context of his poems.

In the poem The World Is Too Much with Us, Angrily, the speaker accuses the modern age of having lost its connection with nature and to everything meaningful. In the poem he uses this lines "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!" He says that even when the sea "bares her bosom to the moon" and the winds howl, society is still out of tune, and looks on with no emotion at the sight of the storm. The speaker wishes that he were a pagan that was raised with different views on life, so that, "standing on this pleasant lea," he may be able to see images of ancient gods rising from the waves, a sight that would make him very happy with life. He imagines "Proteus rising from the sea," and Triton "blowing his wreathed horn. (William Wordsworth Updated 98-99) Those are some of the lines that Wordswoth uses to show how the modern age has lost its connection with nature.

This poem The World Is Too Much with Us is one of the many excellent sonnets Wordsworth had written in the early 1800s. Sonnets are fourteen-line poetic inventions written in iambic pentameter. There are several varieties of sonnets; "The World Is Too Much with Us" takes the form of a Petrarchan sonnet, named that because of the work of Petrarch, an Italian poet of the early Renaissance. A Petrarchan sonnet is divided into two parts, an octave, the first eight lines of the poem and a sestet, the final six lines. The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet is never clear on just one thing it can have different rhyme schemes; in this case, the octave follows a rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA, and the sestet follows a rhyme scheme of CDCDCD. In most of the Petrarchan sonnets, the octave asks a question or an idea that the sestet answers, comments on, or criticizes.

"The world is too much with us" falls in the category with a number of sonnets written by Wordsworth in the early 1800s that criticize or give a warning about what Wordsworth saw as the immoral material doubt of the time. This rather simple poem angrily states that human beings are too preoccupied with the material part of life ("The world...getting and spending") and have lost touch with the spiritual side and with Mother Nature. In the sestet, the speaker proposes an impossible personal solution to his problem, he wishes he could have been raised as a pagan, so he could still see ancient gods living and doing the things they do everyday so that he could feel more intelligent about the many aspects of life. His punctuation with the words "Great God!" indicates the farthest point of his wish in Christian England that some one would not normally ask to be a pagan. (Wordsworth, Nature, Life and Morals)

On the whole, this sonnet offers an angry point of view of the familiar Wordsworthian theme of caring about nature because of his life and the twists and turns it took This sonnet shows a very good point on how far the early nineteenth century was from living out the Wordsworthian ideal.