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Symbol Analysis

Wordsworth is one of the Romantic poets, and they were always talking about their feelings. This poem is no exception, only the rhetoric is more subtle than usual. It is not only humanity's inability to "see" anything in nature that so depresses the speaker, it is also our inability to be moved by it. Such insensibility is, for the speaker of the poem, a sad sight.

  • Lines 1-2: The speaker implies that we don't have time for nature because we're too busy "getting and spending" all the time; the phrase "we lay waste our powers" is cryptic, but the fact that it occurs so close to the word "heart" (4) suggests that it has some connection to our ability to feel.
  • Line 4: The speaker says that we have given away our hearts, the organ most often associated with feelings, sentiment, etc. Of course the heart doesn't literally do anything but pump blood, which means it is a symbol of our feelings.
  • Line 8: The speaker says we are "out of tune" for the sea and wind. Here, a musical instrument is a metaphor for humanity; for people to be "out of tune" means that they are tuned to a different pitch, one that isn't in harmony with nature. There is also the suggestion that people are out of touch with nature.
  • Line 9: The speaker says bluntly what he's been suggesting all along: nature doesn't move us anymore or cause us to have an emotional response. Nature never literally "moves" us, so "move" is here a metaphor for a change in one's emotions.
  • Line 12: The speaker suggests that the current state of affairs has caused him to feel "forlorn" (i.e., sad, depressed, etc.). He implies that if he were a pagan he would see things that would make him feel differently.