William Wordsworth is opposed to gross materialism in his poems. He does not approve of the sordid pursuits of life. He wants human beings to keep away from the life of sordid materialism. This sort of life is neither useful to the individual nor good for the society. In his sonnet ‘The World is Too Much with us’ the poet expresses his resentment against the life of materialism. He points out that getting and spending—a life of materialism—isolates a man from Nature.
This separation of man from the beauties of Nature is a curse for his own spiritual development. Materialism and engrossment take away man from the path of Nature. Close contact with Nature brings consolation and peace to his soul. Wordsworth gives the message that a man should keep away from the gross materialism of worldly people. He should live in close proximity to the beauties of Nature and lead a life of simplicity.
He is a worshipper of the beauties of Nature. If we are too much engrossed in amazing the worldly things, we just lay waste our powers. We expend our energies in sordid activities.
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!
The poet warns his countrymen of the evils of worldliness.
He attaches so much importance to the appreciation of the manifestations of Nature that if we are lost in the pursuits of worldly enjoyments at the cost of Nature, he would like to renounce even his religion and prefer paganism in order to maintain strong link with Nature. Look at his preference:
Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan such led in a creed outworn;
Wordsworth never likes London life. Urban life corrupts a man whereas Nature purifies and moralizes him. It fills his mind with sublime thoughts and acts as his guide, teacher, friend and well wisher. He is for ever spiritualising the moods of Nature and winning from them moral consolation. A poet like Wordsworth finds it difficult to worship the world of materialism instead of the world of Nature. His diverse interests are opposed to materialism. He believes that even a superstitious veneration of the priest of Nature is better than apathy born out of absorption in material things.
Wordsworth is also a poet of man. He gives his thoughts to the feelings of man. He is a philosophical poet whose ultimate theme is the heart of man. Humble and rustic life provides him with the essential passions of the heart at their purest and simplest. He is interested in the “still, sad music of humanity”. His rustic characters like Michael are corrupted in the town but are alright when they are in touch with Nature. He is a poet of human growth. This theme is widely expressed in such poems as Expostulation and Reply, Tintern Abbey and Immortality Ode. ‘The Prelude’ deals with the growth of a poets’ mind. Before he prepares to compose his long poem, The Prelude, Wordsworth prefers the country side—to live away from the boisterous life of London. He gets financial help from his friend and feels content with his lot. He is never worried about materialism. This liberty, rather, from financial constraints enables him to pay utmost attention to the composition of this great autobiographical poem.
He is a great love poet. His love poetry readily appeals to our hearts. Love is the theme of poems such as The Thorn, and the Idiot Boy. He is also interested in child life. His interest in child life is evident in poems like ‘We are Seven’, The Immortality Ode, Lucy Gray, The Cuckoo and The Prelude (Books I and II). He is the poet of solitude. All solitary things have an extraordinary fascination for him. He introduces solitary figures in his poetry, for example, The Leech Gatherer and The Solitary Reaper.
The above discussion of different aspects of Wordsworth as a poet shows that his interests are quite varied and are not at all expressive of his slightest materialism. He is a didactic poet. He says, “every great poet is a teacher: I wish either to be considered as a teacher or as nothing.” Wordsworth gives the message of a moral and virtuous life in his poetry. He has got nothing to do with material gains. His most significant message to humanity is the message of ‘plain living and high thinking.’ Wordsworth is the first among the philosophic poets of the Romantic Movement. His place is with Coleridge and Shelley. Wordsworth is a mystic in the true sense of the word. He is a seer and a practical psychologist with a subtle mind and an unusual capacity for feeling. It is not the beauty of Nature which brings him joy and peace but the life in Nature. He himself catches a vision of that life. In his poems like Tintern Abbey and Immortality Ode, the mystic note is very strong. The faith that divine spirit is present both in the objects of Nature and in the mind of man is mystically expressed by the poet in Tintern Abbey. His mystic conception of childhood is expressed in the Immortality Ode.
From the above detailed discussion we can conclude that Wordsworth is a great poet with other aspects and considerations than materialism. His interests are vast and varied but not materialistic. He is opposed to worldliness but inclined to Man and Nature. For Wordsworth, Nature and God are the objects of the philosophy of his poetry, cognition and life. From a view of Daffodils to the River Derwent, spirituality envelopes his vision. This aspect of his poetic considerations lifts him high above the ‘gross materialism’ of the world.