"And, in this corner, William Wordsworth. . . "

Today, a major Wordsworthian Smackdown.  There are several such in the work at large, most are sort of gentle remonstrances, but this one is pretty forceful in its thrust.

from The Prelude Book 5
William Wordsworth

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

And I guess I would join my voice to Wordsworth's here and say that in 200 or so years, nothing has changed--when will they learn?  We worship progress even as it tears us apart.  And, as he has said so well here, there is another, wiser at spirit at work for us.  

Comments

  1. Indeed! Or, to say it another way, "the world is too much with us; late and soon, / getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."

    You know, the older I get, the more I realize that the English Romantics, in general, and Wordsworth, in particular, had a somewhat better grasp on reality than do folks in the 21st century.

    Ah, if only there were a time machine in which I could transport myself back to the Lake District where I could visit William and Dorothy, and then take a stroll through the daffodils.

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  2. Dear R. T.,

    You said it, and, of course, I couldn't agree more (otherwise, I wouldn't have posted in the first place). I find your insight in the second paragraph significant. We've made some enormous advances in Technology, but each of those advances seems to separate us: first from the natural world, and now, more ominously, from each other. I think about "social networks" as the new dodge for actually relating to one another in real life. The more remote we become, the more self-centered and the odder the sort of world we live in.

    shalom,

    Steven

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