Editor's comment

Lines from these two
famous old poems express a world-view that resonates within the minds of many
people even today.

In the first, the poet
feels a "presence," a "something" that is sublime, in the light, the ocean and the air, and in the human mind. What is it that "rolls through all things?"

In the second, he insists
he would rather have a pagan world-view with its love of nature and, presumably, with the "presence" that produces elevated thoughts rather than the modern world of "getting and spending."


Readings on: Reactions to the Age of Reason

Wordsworth , William, 1770-1850 Two poems [240 words]

From Lines composed above Tintern Abbey, 1798

…. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things


The World is Too Much With Us, 1806

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.