William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

The world is too much with us; late and soon


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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Monday, January 02, 2012

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  • Dorothy Dougherty (9/25/2013 7:42:00 AM)

    So many years ago a high school English teacher asked her students to commit a poem to memory. She suggested at sometime in our future we may go back to this poem hoping we would have more understanding or perhaps just enjoy the memory. I never forgot the first two lines which in today's world are much more poignant.
    Every time I hear of a friend drop off the electrical grid or see folks standing in line to buy the next great piece of technology I think of these lines and say, Thanks Mrs. Johnson. (Report) Reply

  • Marisa Campagna (2/25/2012 12:49:00 PM)

    The elements used to identify the Romantic poetry is the nature quality. The rhyme scheme is ABBAABBA. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Hoellering (8/10/2009 11:48:00 AM)

    ‘Getting and spending we lay waste our powers’ is one of those lines that is impossible to forget, as is ‘For this, for everything we are out of tune.’
    Wordsworth is referring to nature –see also his poem beginning ‘Earth hath not anything to show more fair’, which describes his own full-hearted joyous response to an early morning view of London.
    The present sonnet asks why others are unable to share his all-consuming passion for natural beauty. His answer is that we expend all our energies on those ultimately meaningless routines necessary for making a living, and for this we pay a heavy price -‘It (nature) moves us not’.
    The reference to our Greek heritage is brilliant as it links past and present.
    We must get our priorities right if we are to satisfactorily answer the ultimate devastating question, ‘ And what did you do with your life? ’ (Report) Reply

  • Michael Vinning (1/26/2007 4:55:00 AM)

    A good friend of mine in Brooklyn recommended I read this poem; it seems he knows me better than I thought, I'll never tell though! My days spent inside, alas, the bread must be won! My afternoons/evenings/nights....spent at the helm of this maddening technology....when will I ever stop and smell the roses....when will ever stop and lay eyes upon such a gem? ? Never...tomorrow? ? ...Today! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Daphne Grant (3/20/2006 4:09:00 PM)

    This is so true today, so much time watching TV is stolen time, there is no time to stand and stare. (Report) Reply

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