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The Senses

Symbol Analysis

In a poem concerned with our inability to be moved by nature, it is no surprise that the senses are invoked on several occasions. The speaker suggests that our obsession with "getting and spending" has altered, or even destroyed, our ability to see anything of value in nature. As if to compensate for this sad state of affairs, this figurative blindness, the speaker says he would rather be a pagan, because then he would at least see and hear something a little more inspiring.

  • Line 3: The speaker describes humanity's alienation from nature as a kind of blindness; people no longer see any similarities between nature and humankind, nor do they see anything in nature that is worth their time.
  • Line 12: The speaker says that if he were a pagan he might have "glimpses" of something that would make him less depressed.
  • Line 13: The speaker elaborates on those "glimpses," telling us that if he were a pagan he might "have sight" of Proteus rising out of the sea.
  • Line 14: Alongside a vision of Proteus, the speaker tells us that he might also "hear" Triton blowing his horn.

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