The World Is Too Much With Us

Selected by Dan Clendenin

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

The World Is Too Much With Us (1807)

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.

William Wordsworth, the greatest of the Romantic poets, gloried in nature, and here he reflects how often we are tone deaf to its music. Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland, the son of an attorney. He was educated at Hawkshead grammar school and at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Both his parents died by the time he was thirteen and he was brought up by relatives. He spent some time in France shortly after the French Revolution whose cause he espoused and in 1797 moved to Somerset with his favourite sister, Dorothy, where he developed a close association with Coleridge. Generally considered the greatest of the Romantic poets, Wordsworth’s most creative poetry is his early work with its main themes of the English countryside and the revolutionary spirit of the age. Of his later work, The Prelude, published posthumously, is the most significant. He became Poet Laureate in 1843. From http://www.englishverse.com/poets/wordsworth_william.

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