Comparing Man's Downfall in Second Coming and The world is too much with us

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Man's Downfall in Second Coming and The world is too much with us

Although W.B. Yeats wrote roughly a century after the Era of Romanticism, his Romantic precursors influenced his writing greatly. One of his most famous poems, "The Second Coming," echoes both Blake's The Book of Urizen and Shelley's most ambitious poem Prometheus Unbound (Bloom 530). Despite less criticism on the relationship between Yeats's poems and the writing of another one of his Romantic predecessors, William Wordsworth, Wordsworth's reproach of greed and materialism in a waxing industrial society influences Yeats' poetic interpretation of the apocalypse. Both Wordsworth and Yeats depict man's downfall; "The world is too much with us" foreshadows and
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Frustrated, Wordsworth declares that he and his society "lay waste [their] powers" admitting to the evils of their frivolousness. Although humans' efforts would be much better directed toward Nature, their greed and self-indulgence have brought them to the point where they can hardly identify with Nature anymore. With the act of "giv[ing] [their] hearts away" in line 4, Wordsworth voluntarily accepts that the humans can not help themselves but need divine aid. The complaint of the poem might thus be rewritten, "the world is too much with us: not enough in us, of us" (Levinson 645).

Man's loss of focus on Nature, described in the first four lines of "The world is too much with us" results in a loss of control of Nature in lines 1-4 of "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world (Yeats 2280).

Ostensibly, Yeats echoes Wordsworth's first line, "Little we see in Nature that is ours." However, Yeats's portrayal of man's break with Nature seems more urgent than Wordsworth's did. The falcon (man's mastery of Nature) cannot hear the falconer (man) not because the bird wills disobedience, but because it has spun too far out to hear its master (Bloom 531). While the men of "The world is too much with us" spend their time absorbing
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