“The World is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon” by William Wordsworth


I recently came across this poem on another person’s blog. I should have noted the blog to post a link, but I didn’t (my bad). Anyway, the poem resonated with me, so I got my tome of English Romantic Writers from college and looked it up.  Not surprising, I had read it in college and had made notes in the margins (marginalia, my history professor called them). It was interesting to look back on my thoughts on this poem from so many years ago and compare them with the impressions I have today.

Here is the poem for those of you who need:

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!
The 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.

In the sonnet, Wordsworth laments the fact that humanity has separated themselves from Nature and lost its reverence toward the transcendent power of Nature. He states that “we are out of tune” with our environment, and this is an issue that continues to this day. Too many humans still look at the world as a resource to be exploited and not as something that we are a part of, something that should inspire us and a sacred entity to be protected and revered.

The lack of reverence for Nature that Wordsworth sees causes him to align himself with paganism. Pagans see divinity expressed through Nature, as does Wordsworth. The sound of the wind and sea, the green rolling hills, these things evoke images of ancient gods and fill him with wonder. One need only stand on a beach that is not cluttered with condos, or climb to the top of a mountain and gaze at the world below, to experience the same mystical connection with Nature that Wordsworth conveys in this poem.

As is often the case, reading a poem like this has inspired me. Weather permitting, I will go for a hike in the woods this weekend and renew my connection with Nature. I often wonder how the world would be if everyone took the time to read poems like this. Thanks for being one of those who reads and thinks. Cheers!!



Filed under Literature

5 responses to ““The World is Too Much With Us; Late and Soon” by William Wordsworth

  1. Not to be totally weird…but I think I have that same book. I used it for my Romanticism class that I took while working on my undergrad.

  2. mark

    Hi I enjoyed this, I know this poem well it’s nice to see that people are still talking about Wordsworth and his poetry. At one point in time he was far and away my favourite poet and although I still admire him I just have broader tastes now. I see you’ve got posts on Blake also, another favourite of mine. I don’t know how much of Wordsworth you have read but the one that I constantly return to is “Intimations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood” it’s not a short poem by any means, much like the title, but it is well worth reading and in parts, in my opinion, is absolutely brilliant.
    Thanks again for this post.

    • Stuff Jeff Reads

      Hi Mark. Thanks for your comment. I’m a big fan of all the English romantic writers. I feel like I read the poem you suggested in college, but don’t remember it. I’ll certainly read it again. Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. Cheers!