William Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much with Us” presents a fatalistic picture as viewed from an unstable past and towards an uncertain tomorrow. The poem was composed in 1802 and published in Poems, In Two Volumes (1807).It is in the form of a Petrarchan sonnet with the rhyme scheme abbaabbacdcdcd. It was essentially a response to the Industrial Revolution steeped in commercial values and the materialistic march for progress. Wordsworth perceived the same as “the decadent material cynicism of the time.”
In the reification process, nature too was perceived as a commodity. People lost communion with nature and relegated the therapeutic powers of Nature. Wordsworth comprehended that Nature was the ultimate panacea for the worldly trials and tribulations .Nature was also endowed with the ability to render moral elevation. Words like “late and soon” bridge the gap between the past and present. Energies are simply wasted in “getting and spending” or indulging in profit and gain as life has transformed into a business proposition. Being a writer, he also hints at the trading of creativity for money.” Little do we comprehend that Nature is ours”: Wordsworth her refers to external nature that is sidelined as well as the masking of our inner natures. ‘This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon” implies that in the course of mechanization, people have marginalized human concerns, ideals and principles. The limits of modesty are traded for monetary benefit. Wordsworth being a true Christian could not digest the same. It bears testimony to this fact; that in the process of commodification we have sold out our souls.. The industrial revolution in such a stance comes across as a ‘sordid boon’ distasteful to the senses and sensibility.
The wind as portrayed in Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” is both creator an destroyer .But in the prescribed poem, the wind is visualized as dormant and stagnant as “The winds that will be howling at all hours,/And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers.” The lack of spirituality has rendered the whole system morbid. We are incapable of being moved by the simple joys of life. In the pace that is practised even change appears static, and civilization appears to be arrested in stagnation. Nonethless,there is a ray of hope as Wordsworth claims that the flowers are sleeping and not dead. Also note that the idea that the freedom of the wind has been ‘gathered up or limited to constraints. The poet aspires to go back to Paganism and be seated the darkness of irrationality rather than encounter a business-minded world driven by profit. Though this ’creed’ is outworn or out of date it does not matter to the poet as long as it is genuine and instinctive. “The pagans thrived n the heart of nature and imparted significance to brotherhood in the form of kinship. This relationship was not based on a competitive strategy or on material benefit. “Forelorn” has been stated by critics to be notable word in terms of its etymology. It is the past participle of the word ‘forleosan=to lose completely”. The literal meaning of ‘forlorn’ therefore amounts to the state of being completely lost. Wordsworth therefore refers to the modern state of Man who in the maze of antagonism has lost his way.
The end has Wordsworth beholding the sea Gods. He therefore touches all three basic elements of nature- wind, the earth the sea. He emphasizes by this aspect how Nature in the process of automation has touched all aspects of life. He wants to transcend into myth and visually ‘see Proteus’ and aurally ‘hear Triton’. According to Greek mythology Proteus had prophetic powers and the ability to change shapes. Here Wordsworth underlines the concept of chance and the awaits the prophecy that foretells the same Triton was half-man and half-dolphin.
These lines been explained by Mr.Webb as follows:”To us, spoiled by civilization, nature is dead: in her presence we find ourselves solitary, unfriended. The heathens were better off: for them every tree had its wood nymph, every stream Naiad; every form of Nature might give chances”glimpse”of some indwelling spirit.”
The dolphin is said to be the most intelligent of the species of fishes.The poet echoes that while keeping our intelligence intact we need retain some instinctive qualities that not only entails the ‘survival of the fittest’ but also enjoying the true spirit of life; not for any extraneous motive, but for its own sake.
© Rukhaya MK 2010
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