“The World Is Too Much With Us” & “Nightingale Ode” Book Reviews

It is often suggested that the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This is true since people tend to perceive the world from a subjective perspective. If one develops this idea even further, one will have to note that life of a person is short; that is why it is beneficial to spend the remaining time enjoying the world and its beauty. William Wordsworth in his The World Is Too Much With Us and John Keats in his Nightingale Ode address the relationship between beauty and the way in which people spend their lives not noticing it because they are fixed on mundane matters. In spite of the fact that the two authors seem to share their views on the topic, they make slightly different aspects: both start with describing the difficulties associated with life and use images of mythical creatures to refer to the atmosphere of beautiful and unknown; however, Wordsworth ends the poem on a positive note and is preoccupied with the humanity, while Keats ends on a negative note and focuses on his subjective feelings.

To begin with, it may be useful to explore the similarities between the two poems. One should note that the way in which narration develops is quite similar. Thus, both authors in the very first lines paint a picture that represents all the problems that are associated with human life. For example, Wordsworth writes: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, / Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers”. It is clear that the overall message of this line primarily focuses on negativity. The same can be read in the first lines of Nightingale Ode: “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains / My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk”. One would make no mistake that the two authors deliberately decided to focus on the negative aspects of life in order to contrast them with the beauty that they will describe further.

The second aspect in which the poems of the two author is similar is that they engage the images of mythical creatures. It is not known for sure what was the purpose of this. However, it is quite understandable that they referred to the creatures described in the Ancient Greek and Roman myths because these two cultures represent the cradle of the Western civilization. There are the creatures that Wordsworth mentions: Nature, Sea, Proteus, Triton. On the other hand, Keats engages the following images: Lethe, Dryad, Flora, Bacchus, Poesy, Queen-Moon. There is no doubt that the two authors were well-versed in antique mythology and believes that the inclusion of the mythical creatures will contribute to the aesthetics of their poems.

Nevertheless, one should also keep in mind that there are points in which the two authors are dramatically different from each other. For example, one might suggest that the ending of the first poem is positive even though the author is somewhat skeptical about the lifestyle of the contemporary men. Thus, Wordsworth argues that the way in which he and his contemporaries live in not and he dreams about the following: “So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, / Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn”. In other words, he knows what needs to be done for the people to feel the beauty in life and make sure that they are living well. That is why the major point that the author states is that there is a lot that is beautiful in life and people have to find time to enjoy it. So, it is clear that he has an optimistic point of view on life.

Contrary to that, the poem by Keats supports a completely different perspective. This might have been influenced by the fact that the author was dying when he was writing the poem. Moreover, Keats was to die when he was relatively young; so, unlike Wordsworth, he could not enjoy the beauty of life to its fullest. These are the phrases that represent his acceptance of his future death: “Away! away! for I will fly to thee”, “Darkling I listen; and, for many a time / I have been half in love with easeful Death”, “Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— / To thy high requiem become a sod”. One can easily see that these phrases are full of negative images that show that the author has a difficulty in coping with the fact that he is dying. That is why the poem in question sends the message of despair: though the beauty of the song of the bird can be enjoyed, it cannot be enjoyed for long enough.

Another point where the two poems are not similar lies in the perspective from which the authors address the issue. In spite of the fact that Wordsworth makes several personal remarks, it is clear that when talking about life, he has the entire humanity in mind. These are the phrases when this perspective is most evident: “We have given our hearts away”, “we are out of tune; / It moves us not”. Obviously, Wordsworth also describes his own experience and shares his dreams with the audience. However, when it comes to examining the role of beauty in the life of a contemporary person, he refers to the entire humanity, pointing out that people of his generation are not able to enjoy the beauty. That is why it is clear that the perspective of the poem is quite broad and the target audience is large.

On the other hand, Keats is much more preoccupied with his own problems and perspective. It is clear that while being young, he had to deal with serious problems with his health and prepare for death at the age which is largely seen as the most productive. That is why when focusing on the role of beauty in life of a person he primarily addresses the topic from the personal perspective which is evident in a large number of personal pronouns used: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen”, “I cannot see what flowers are at my feet”, “To tell me back from thee to my sole self!”, “Was it a vision, or a waking dream? / Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?”.

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, one is able to come to the following conclusion: in spite of the fact that the two poems in question address the same topic, the authors put emphasis on different aspects of it. Thus, both poets described the hardships that a person faces in one’s everyday life to contrast that with the beautiful images. In addition to that, they also engaged various mythical creatures in order to refer to something that is beautiful and create the mystic atmosphere. However, there are several differences that can be identified. First of all, Wordsworth tends to develop a positive perspective on human life, believing that people have to take a step back and enjoy it while Keats is much more pessimistic about it. Secondly, the first poet addresses the topic on behalf of the humanity while the second poet is primarily focused on his own perspective.

Works cited

Wordsworth, William. “The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth.” Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45564/the-world-is-too-much-with-us.

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[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: September 29, 2020]