The World is Too Much With Us

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!
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 wreathed horn.

Summary “The World is Too Much With Us”

  • Popularity: This sonnet is one of the best compositions by William Wordsworth that connects man with nature. It was first published in 1907. The popularity of the poem rests in its theme of how man has lost his connection with nature due to the worldly concerns. This change in man has taken away their pleasures, joys, and comforts of the peaceful nature.
  • Criticism on The Materialistic World: The poem presents Wordsworth’s discontent over the loss of nature caused by the rat race of mankind for material comforts. He claims that the materialistic approach of mankind has transformed human beings into senseless individuals. He further adds that humans do not realize their loss as they are obsessed with money, power, and possessions, and fail to perceive beauty in nature. By discussing the pristine glory of natural objects, he shows that people are missing these delights in the race of the artificial He swears that he would rather be a poor pagan connected with the natural world rather than a rich man alienated from its bliss. He wants to see and hear the Greek gods and feels less forlorn.
  • Major Themes: The major themes of the poem are the loss of nature and the natural world and the impacts of the busy life. The poet argues that people have forsaken their souls for material gains. In fact, the whole text of the poem denounces materialism which the poet has seen around him. To him, this approach of mankind deprives them of the true purpose of their life. Using figurative language, Wordsworth highlights the idea that nature gives spiritual pleasure and enjoyment, and that we should know its worth. He adds that the lust of power and money has made people hollow as they have readily given their hearts to the things they need for material comfort.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “The World is Too Much With Us”

Literary devices are used to bring richness and clarity to the texts. The writers use them to make their texts appealing and meaningful. Wordsworth, too, has employed some literary devices to bring uniqueness in this sonnet. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is given below.

  1. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in a verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For Example,

    “Great God! I’d rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn.”

  2. Personification: Personification is to attribute human characteristics to non-human or even inanimate objects. The poet has used personification at several places in this poem such as, “sea that bears her bosom to the moon”; “The winds that will be howling at all hours” and “sleeping flowers.” All these expressions make nature possess human-like qualities like yearning for love, sleeping and soothing.
  3. Allusions: Allusion is an indirect or direct reference to a person, place, thing or idea of historical, cultural, political or literary significance. This poem contains allusions to Greek mythology,

    “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”

  4. Imagery: The use of imagery makes the readers visualize the writer’s feelings, emotions or ideas. Wordsworth has used images appealing to the sense of hearing such as,winds that will be howling “to the sense of touch as “sleeping flowers;” and to the sense of sight as “Proteus rising from the sea.”
  5. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea” and /f/ and /t/ sounds in “For this, for everything, we are out of tune.”
  6. Simile: Simile a device used to compare something another thing to let the readers know what it is. There is only one simile used in line seven of the poem, “And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;” The poet has linked the howling of the winds with the sleeping flowers.
  7. Metaphor: There are two metaphors used in this poem. One of the metaphors is in the tenth line, “Suckle in a creed outworn.” Here creed represents mother that nurses her child.
  8. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as /o/ sound in “Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn”.

The careful glimpse of this analysis shows that the poet has skillfully projected his ideas using the above devices. The universality of the subject is beautifully discussed under cover of these literary devices.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The World Is Too Much With Us”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem in with one idea flow throughout the text. There are many types of sonnets such as Petrarchan or Shakespearean. This one is Petrarchan sonnet.
  2. Octave: An octave is a verse form consisting of eight lines, which usually appear with iambic The first of the sonnet is octave that starts from “The world is….and ends on “… out of tune.”
  3. Sestet: A sestet is the six-line stanza of poetry. The term refers to the final six lines of a sonnet such as the second part of this sonnet.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows ABBA ABBA rhyme pattern in octave and CDCDCD rhyme scheme in the sestet.
  5. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. The poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “A Pagan suckled in a creed out.”

Quotes to be Used

 These lines can be used in a speech to discuss the mesmerizing, captivating and enchanting beauty of 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.”

  1. These lines can be used when teaching Greek mythology.

            “Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.