Wordsworth PowerPoint

Poetry/Short Lit.
All selections relate to a writer’s
insights about the role of human
beings as stewards of Earth.
As you read each piece, ask yourself:
• What is the relationship of human beings with
the biophysical environment?
• Do the technological advances of the last few
centuries constitute an improvement for
• Are the innovations of the Industrial Revolution
and technological modernity a slowly unfolding
global catastrophe?
• Intro Video
• Usually associated with love/desire
• Petrarchan/Italian: ABBA-ABBA-CDCDCD or
• Shakespearean/English: ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG
• Speaker reveals thoughts/feelings about an
intensely felt idea or experience
• Not always the poet
• However, the speaker in Wordsworth’s
sonnets has very similar thoughts/beliefs to
the poet.
William Wordsworth
• Wordsworth Bio
• Two sonnets we will study:
– “The World is Too Much With Us”
– “Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways”
– Both have revealing titles
“The World is Too Much With Us”
• Italian sonnet form
• TENSION! (Human behavior vs. Natural
• Themes:
– Humanity cheats itself by turning its back on
– Nature provides spiritual renewal.
Poem Analysis
• Line 1:
– “the world” = humanity, humankind
– We are too caught up in our concern for the
limited/limiting ways of people.
– “late and soon” = human failing, human urgency
• Line 2:
– “Getting and spending” = multiple meanings
(reproductive and financial connotations), but
definitely related to material/fiscal issues here
• Lines 5-9:
– Soul-destroying numbness
– We can’t be “moved” by nature because we have
“[lain] waste our powers”
– VOLTA/TURN begins in line 8 – “we are out of tune”
but actually occurs in line 9. Can you find it?
• Line 9-10:
– Wishes to be a Pagan because he can be closer to
nature, but this is not his first choice. He will only
be “less forlorn.”
– Paganism = animate the natural world/divine
– Exclamation = tension between Christian era and
Pagan past.
• Line 13-14:
– Lesser-known Greek gods are both associated
with nature and the sea; shows intimate
connection to nature
“Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways”
• Written in 1833 (later in his life and at the
start of the Victorian period); his ideas about
the world had shifted.
– Youthful rebelliousness
– Yearning for communion with nature
conservative opinions
faith in
civilization’s progress
• Often wrote poems about life experiences
with English landscape. (The Lake Poet)
• This poem shows different side of WW.
• Modified Italian sonnet (switched up line 6
and 7 AND the last 6 lines’ rhyme scheme)
• Used this sonnet to respond to the effects of
the Industrial Revolution.
• Sonnet form became “available” for use with
multiple ideas/topics (not just love).
• Theme:
– The forms of human creation can sometimes be at
odds with a poet’s aesthetics.
Poem Analysis
• Title is emblematic
• Comparison: Auto industry transformed 20th
Century America
• Line 1:
– “Motions and Means” – manmade devices
– In speaking to “them,” he is apostrophizing.
• Lines 1-5 have pauses in the middle (caesuras)
which reinforce the tensions between human
invention and the study of art and beauty. This
form reflects the theme.
• Unusual capitalizations throughout (l. 1, 3, 5,
6, 10, 11, 12) – why?
• Also discusses the importance of Time in
bringing about understanding and
appreciation for technological advances.
– Everyone will come around!
• Last word is “sublime,” which reflects his deep
affinity for the aesthetics; awe-producing.
Closing Question
• Has technology become more of
a help or a handicap for our

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