Born on this day in 1770, William Wordsworth is known as the Father of Romantic Poetry, his most famous work "The Prelude" thought to be the crowning achievement of English romanticism. The romantics' interest in and concern for the common man as well as their belief that the answer to all questions could be found in nature presented a stark contrast to the Age of Enlightenment which demanded that all answers could be found in science...simplistic explanation, but that's basically the difference between the two movements.
My favorite poem of Wordsworth's is the one below; it is so prophetic. Written in 1802 in sonnet form - 14 lines of iambic pentameter- this poem speaks of issues and angsts we still struggle with today! "Getting and spending," "we are out of tune," "we have given our hearts away." The most frightening issue comes in the last verse, where the speaker says he would rather be a pagan "suckled in a creed outworn" following the way of the gods who saw divinity in all parts of nature than to be mired in this world that has lost touch with its great Creator. Ouch!
The World Is Too Much With Us
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
I've always loved this picture of Wordsworth because I think the hand on the brow reveals his reflective angst.