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Symbol Analysis

"The World is too Much With Us" is obsessed with nature; in fact, the central complaint of the poem is that people are so consumed by consumerism that they are no longer moved by nature. But there's more in the poem than just a gripe about humanity's inability to say, "Oh my gosh, that is the most beautiful ocean I've ever seen." According to this poem, mankind's alienation from nature is also the sign of a much deeper problem, the loss or destruction of something as important as our hearts.

  • Line 3: The speaker notes that, because humanity has become so immersed in consumerism, it no longer feels any connection to the natural world.
  • Lines 5: The speaker describes "this sea" as something that should move us but doesn't. He compares the sea to someone taking off their shirt ("bares her bosom"), but because he doesn't use "like" or "as" this is a metaphor. "Bares her bosom" is an example of alliteration, a phenomenon in which several words begin with the same letter.
  • Line 6: The speaker compares the winds to a wolf or any other animal that "howls." The "howling" animal is a metaphor for the winds.
  • Line 7: The winds aren't "howling" at this moment, and the speaker compares them to "sleeping flowers" that are "up-gathered." Because the speaker uses the word "like" to make the comparison, this is a simile.
  • Line 8: The speaker here refers to "everything," by which he means the entire natural world. The way in which the speaker says "for this, for everything" suggests that the sea and the wind were just standing in as representatives for "everything" else; parts (the sea and wind) standing in for the whole (the natural world), that's called synechdoche. The speaker uses a musical instrument as a metaphor for humanity; for humanity to be "out of tune" means they are tuned to a pitch that isn't in harmony or unison with nature.
  • Line 11: The speaker tells us he's standing on a lea, which is an open pasture or meadow.
  • Line 13: The speaker describes the sea, only this isn't the same sea of line 5; the sea has gone back in time in a sense because it is now full of deities like Proteus.

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