Wordsworth's Poetical Works

A Poetic Call-and-Response: The Discordant Intertextuality of Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much with Us” and Levertov’s “O Taste and See”

Literature is not a static, fixed entity, confined to the parameters of its initial creation. Literary pieces are forever evolving, adapting to new cultural, historical and social contexts through the processes of revision and reinterpretation. The grand scheme of literature is best represented as a vast web of interconnections, where various authors and individual works continue to have reverberating effects beyond their respective literary periods. Because new authors remain influenced and moved by their predecessors, works of the past are brought into the present, and begin to engage in a kind of call-and-response relationship with contemporary literature.

Such an intertextual dynamic exists between William Wordsworth’s poem, “The World is Too Much with Us,” and Denise Levertov’s correlate, “O Taste and See.” Both poems examine the question of the individual’s connection to nature. Both poet-narrators yearn to achieve total spiritual communion with their surroundings. Wordsworth, however, argues that his world, at present, cannot offer him the spiritual satisfaction, the intimacy with nature, he so doggedly seeks. By contrast, Levertov feels that rich stimulation and beauty are abundantly present in her surroundings. For...

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