“Where do you want to go today?”. We all know this slogan of the most advanced software company in the world, Microsoft. The question we will soon have to answer is were we can t go today. William Wordsworth, a quaint man from the late 18th century and early 19th century, understood the need for change in this world and expressed a pre-mature concern for the future that still applies to this very day in “The world is too much with us”. Gerald Hopkins, a poet from the later 19th century, expressed many of same ideas and philosophies as Wordsworth in “God s Grandeur”. Their main points were that man s continuous journey towards the future has led us to forget our roots. Though how could two poets from two different lifestyles, Wordsworth the revolutionary and Hopkins the Jesuit, come up with the same basic ideas? They both showed that our continuous journey towards the future has led us to forget our roots as shown by our destruction of nature, by the way the Industrial Revolution has torn us away from our harmony with nature and by the ways we can return back to mother earth.
Man continues to destroy nature in an attempt to strengthen himself. Wordsworth and Hopkins talk about man s primal instinct to destroy what is around him. Ironically our destruction of nature leads to the advancements in our personal technologies. This is made evident when Wordsworth says “getting and spending we lay waste our powers.” While it is obvious is that Wordsworth thinks we have become to attached to material goods, what does he mean by “lay waste our powers”? Perhaps the only explanation we can give is that Wordsworth believes that Man has, somewhere deep down in him, the ability to be a creator, an architect who can use nature and not abuse it. He also believes that Man keeps destroying nature without realizing the effects this adds to our lives. Hopkins shows this same type of idea but with a higher connection, the power of God. He uses God as a way of showing us the wrong we are doing. He shows Man s disobedience of God as a way to show that we have forgotten nature. Wordsworth thinks our own ambitions have led us to this point and we can t say that Hopkins completely disagrees with that. Hopkins shows how nature accumulates our pollution. They both must have realized the influence these technologies were having on their societies.
They indicate how the Industrial Revolution has torn us away from our harmony with nature. This point is made evident not only through the two poems under question but through the way these two poets lived. Wordsworth took his experience in the French revolution and experiences with nature to great heart. This is where the “getting and spending” part of his poem really comes in to strike a chord with his fellow humans. Wordsworth wants us to remember that technology is not, and should not be the most important thing in our lives. While it was the “in” thing to move to the city and forget your rural surroundings, it was rarely the right thing to do. Hopkins had this problem being a Jesuit in Liverpool, one of the most polluted cities. He had to take his inner harmony in stride with his religious belief. He used this religious belief to allow himself to feel cleansed of any sort of hate towards technology. He used his earlier poetry to actually show his discontent with society. While he perhaps was not as influenced by social advancements as Wordsworth, they did play some part in his earlier years. Wordsworth had the opening and money to become someone meaningful in a high paced society yet chose to be the revolutionary. Hopkins took the option of grueling it out to become a Jesuit. These different paths led the two men to different conclusions.
Both poets wondered if it would be possible to return to nature. They then came to the conclusion that Man can rejoin mother nature and rekindle this extinguished flame. Hopkins encourages us to look towards the future to find this lost flame. We see how we have “trod” over nature yet “nature is never spent.” Nature has been crushed by Man yet still endures this abuse. This is what allowed Hopkins to tell Man to look on into the future. He believes that we should give up our old habits and work towards achieving new goals. By contrast, Wordsworth sees a much grimmer future. He believes that nature “moves us not” as we have willingly given up our ties with the beauty that surrounds us. As well he is convinced that the only way we could salvage the future is to return to the past. This is a forward to the past sort of concept, meaning; to go into the future we must become what we once were. He would rather be a “pagan” then to live in our times. Wordsworth emphasizes how the powerful civilizations of the past have all concentrated on nature as the basis of their society. If Man is ever to attain greatness again he must return to this sort of notion. Both poets have unique opinions about solutions to this problem.
The ongoing puzzle of how man has forgotten nature persists up to this very day. Each poet shows man s destruction of nature, the effects of the Industrial Revolution and the ways of returning back to mother earth. We can only being to wonder what Wordsworth and Hopkins would think of our modern age that continues these nasty habits. In fact, we have jumped a step beyond going into the information age. I don t think anyone can answer this question, and I certainly cannot. We must nevertheless continue to interpret these poems to their full benefit. Only time will tell if man does completely destroy nature but I believe he will not. We must remember to make an influence and fight for our world, our home.