Monday, September 18, 2017

The World is Too Much...


“The World is Too Much with Us” (circa 1802) is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In it, the poet criticizes the world of the first Industrial Revolution for being absorbed in materialism and for its people distancing themselves from nature. (Wikipedia)

In the early 19th century, Wordsworth wrote several sonnets blasting what he perceived as "the decadent material cynicism" of the time.
"The World Is Too Much with Us" is one of those works. It reflects his view that humanity must get in touch with nature in order to progress spiritually.

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.

Triton fountain in Rome
by Gianlorenzo Bernini
Who among us can fail to see the similarities between the ancient world, as described here by Wordsworth, and the world in which we live today?

As writers and poets, we can all read his words "getting and spending, we lay waste our powers..." and "for everything we are out of tune, it moves us not"... and we can't help but apply those words, from 1802, to life in the 21st century.

Yes, our world has seen changes which, in so many ways, would amaze and even, we suppose, awe Wordsworth, were he to see it today.

However, I doubt if he'd be impressed.

With his discerning eye, the poet would know without doubt that our modern reality bears out his opinion..."we lay waste our powers" indeed.

What would the sea god Triton think of the melting polar ice caps... what could a sea god think as we pollute his very oceans along with the lakes and rivers a poet once could love? ...The rapid extinction of one wild species after another would break a poet's heart... and, of course, war always war, never a decade or even a day without war...what kind of sonnet could Wordsworth write today?

Yes, we "lay waste our powers," and now we have to live in the world that Man's arrogance created. Who of us can really believe that 2017 is better than 1802?

And who among us really cares? "I've got what I want, and the rest of you be damned!" That is the mantra of too many.

RIP, William Wordsworth. Yes, may you rest in peace despite us!

Written for Lady Fi's memorable meme,

Thank you, Fiona, for the world as you see it through your discerning eye, every Tuesday.


Lessandra said...

Sobering, sad words but we must ever stay hopeful...

Mara said...

A lovely poem that still stands up well and holds true today.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Well said Kay! it is a simple fact that every generation there are those who see the folly and those who are determined to live it. In a world where change is the only guarantee of life, nothing much in fact changes!!! YAM xx

Penelope Notes said...

Humanity has been on a dangerous path to destroying its own habitat for centuries. Woodsworth, in his lyrical way, showed great insight (and foresight) into the carelessness of mankind under the guise of modernization. Yet still there are the deniers.

Fun60 said...

The words ring so true today. I wonder if you have visited the Lake District where Wordsworth lived? It is no wonder he was one with nature.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I resonated with your every word, Kay. It is nice to see you writing!

carol l mckenna said...

What a wonderful post and so 'today' ~ I definitely feel the 'norm' of this world has its priorities all out of whack ~ I am with you and Wordsworth ~ thanks ^_^

(A Shutterbug Explores)

Lady Fi said...

It seems that every generation says the same thing. But, of course, Wordsworth says it better than we ever can.

Al said...

Sometimes the thought of our future is really depressing, but people have been saying similar things for centuries. The difference is that now we really can destroy our civilization.

Minoru Saito said...

Hi! I visited Wordsworth's house in GB.

Gattina said...

I think they all would bury their heads in the sand !

Powell River Books said...

You are so much more thoughtful than I am. I can see the journalist in you. - Margy