Wordsworth: The World Is Too Much With Us

by Bob Schwartz

The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth

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 wreathèd horn.


We are the people of more or all.

We have never before been able to have so many different things and to tell so many different people about so many different things. We have never been able to want so many different things and to hear from so many people about so many different things. Things include not only material, but events, experiences and ideas.

We may try to have, want, say, hear it all, or as much as possible. We may believe that we are the fortunate beneficiaries of living in this unprecedented situation, and that even the occasional imbalance is outweighed by finally being the people of more or all. Anyway, we are just taking advantage of inevitable progress, are we not? Why shouldn’t just a hint about the next iPhone be a milestone in our lives, making it a major global news story?

Writing more than two hundred years ago, William Wordsworth was in a long line of those who have suggested—begged—that we get our priorities in order and look for relief from a condition we don’t even know we are suffering from. His prescription was Nature, which stands in more broadly for consciousness of the deep essence of existence. We can have more or all, already may have more or all, if we look in the right places.