William Wordsworth's Poems: The Theme Of Nature In Poetry

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From the acclaimed transcendentalist poets - such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson - to contemporary poets, the theme of nature in poetry frequently comes up. This theme is found repeatedly throughout English poet William Wordsworth’s sonnets. Specifically, in “The World Is Too Much with Us”, which was first published in 1807, the overall theme is “nature and how nature is perceived by the human mind” (Constantakis 299). Wordsworth’s poems generally encompass the theme of nature; however, in this sonnet and others written by Wordsworth around the same time period, there is a change in the common tone that he uses in these poems. This common tone adds smaller themes that relate to the overall theme of nature and how humans perceive …show more content…
Literary analysts tend to view the smaller themes of this poem in different ways; however, critics often agree on the connections between the smaller themes, such as alienation and mythology, and the overall theme of nature. The first and most frequent theme found in “The World Is Too Much with Us,” is the change in people’s views of nature due to changes in society. According to literary critic Sara Constantakis, Wordsworth is “[making] a complaint against the materialism of [English] culture” (301). He had this animosity towards it because it affects society’s perception of nature in a negative way. Constantakis continues by saying that Wordsworth’s message in the beginning of the sonnet is that, “In their rush to acquire material things, people have lost their connection with nature” (301). Asha Jain, another literary analyst, explains that Wordsworth’s bitterness about materialism is directly affected by the Industrial Revolution, which caused a transition in the views of society on nature (28). This transition was from an enthusiastic attitude towards nature to a dull attitude towards it. Jain, like Constantakis, states that Wordsworth “expresses his resentment against the life of materialism” in the first part of the sonnet (28). This is …show more content…
Mythology is used to show the change in perception Wordsworth hopes humans obtain toward nature (Constantakis 304). Aubrey, on the other hand, has a different explanation for why Wordsworth uses mythology in the last few lines of the sonnet. He explains that Wordsworth usually views his own mind as a god because of how it connects with nature, and he believes that Wordsworth’s use of Greek gods, rather than referring to his own mind as his god, is a sign of how alienated Wordsworth becomes while writing his poem (Aubrey 310). This portrays Wordsworth’s alienation because he no longer believes that he has the ability to ever see nature in the same way he saw it as a child. Jain has a more optimistic view of what she thinks Wordsworth’s message is in the last few lines of the sonnet. Wordsworth believes that if he were a pagan and believed in the ancient pagan gods, he would be able to see nature in the same way he previously did as a child (Jain 28). This explanation also connects with the theme of alienation; however, it is more hopeful than Aubrey’s explanation. Constantakis also has an explanation, similar to Jain’s, saying that Wordsworth claims he would rather be a pagan because he would be able to view nature like he used to as a child (304). She also believes that Wordsworth uses Greek gods such as Triton and Proteus in the sonnet to try and

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