Translation by Alejandro Sanchez
Original Text: "The World Is Too Much With Us" by William Wordsworth The world is too much with us; late and soon, 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! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
William Wordsworth writes the sonnet, “The World Is Too Much With Us,” to express the speaker’s disappointment with mankind. With the first two lines of the poem, Wordsworth sets the tone by writing “The world is too much with us; late and soon, \ Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” The way ‘world’ is used in the line separates us from everything else there is in the planet. This separation between humanity and the place we live in signifies the disregard and mistreatment of our home. “Getting and spending” implies that we humans instead focus on money. To most of us, life is solely about acquiring a paycheck to make it through the next month, but the speaker views that as a misconception and that the real power in our lives is to be connected with this realm in which we started as a species. In lines five through seven, the speaker describes what nature has to offer using personification. For instance, Wordsworth writes, “This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon.” He uses personification as a method to combine human sentiments with aspects of the natural world in order to emphasize the ideal relationship between man and Earth that the speaker wishes for in a damaged society. The speaker criticizes mankind’s neglect and distance from the heavenly aspects present in our lives. The turning point of the poem occurs when he says, “Great God!” This represents a sheer outburst of emotion that seems to be building within him as the poem progresses. After this phrase, the poem shifts from about human’s neglect of the beauties of nature to the speaker himself within the poem. He declares that he would rather be a Pagan even though he views that pagan beliefs are outdated. Paganism refers to the polytheistic beliefs that involve celestial beings acting as gods to different aspects of nature whether it is the sun, sea, or the sky. He feels that being a Pagan surpasses the thought of being like everyone else in society who possess such materialistic ideals because at least he can be closer to nature with the different elemental gods. He then proceeds to place himself in a sensory environment “standing on a pleasant lea.” He imagines seeing “Proteus rising from the sea” and hearing “old Triton blow his wreathed horn.” This detailed imagery accentuates the power in nature that people have forgotten but that he wants to be at one with. The allusions to these gods as he imagines them while standing on the lea illustrates how nature is bigger than human life itself, which is why humans should not treat it as insignificant.
Form my translation, I chose to do a video of the poem. From the videos we watched in class on various poems, I wanted to try making my own video and incorporating editing styles and cinematography that will match and possibly even enhance the meaning of my poem. I felt like it would be a challenging, yet interesting task especially to see what I can accomplish or fail to accomplish with this type of translation. Advantages to this video translation are the fact that since my poem is about nature, I was able to go to Lullwater and various locations to record footage on nature. The availability of these resources allow me to create a scenery-filled video. Moreover, the vocalization of digital storytelling offers a new sense to the viewer because the viewer is also a listener, so the combination of sight and sound can more deeply affect the sentiments felt by the words of the poem, making it more impactful. This is the case because the translator for a video possesses the power to create or find his or her own imagery in order to support the ideas of the poem, giving the audience a basis to formulate meaning through. The imagery, being the single most influential characteristic of this medium, sets the tone of the video based on what the translator presents. For example, an actor’s expressions and actions can alter the mood of the audience. In my video, the actor’s straight face while walking and looking down at his phone enforces the plain disregard of nature. If the actor was smiling or skipping, this could have a different effect on the audience and reduce the gravity of Wordsworth’s words. For disadvantages, the main one was that the sonnet is short, so I had to extend some of the videos in an effort to extend emotion. Another disadvantage occurs in this translation because a video is comprised of multiple video clips, but the clips themselves cannot be too short for the viewer. Because of this, the video clips must relate to most of the words of a certain line or multiple lines in order to be effective as a translation.
A successful translation would be a video that contains the different elements of this poem, which are the materialistic criticisms and the beauty and power of nature. The footage must relate to those themes, while also making the audience understand and feel through narration. In my translation, I chose to emphasize the vastness of nature with clips from different places including the ocean and treelines with a background of the sky. Moreover, I emphasized the the human disregard by including multiple clips of an individual looking down on his phone. In the last section of the poem, I emphasized Wordsworth’s demonstration of emotion and disappoint by speeding up the words in the narration to portray slight aggression and attitude that Wordsworth has towards mankind. In addition, I made most of the clips black and white to enforce this somber mood throughout the majority of the video until the end where I brought out nature with short clips of colorful and vibrant scenes to severely contrast the gray. The part I was forced to minimize in my translation was the visuals for the last section of the poem because it was hard to effectively represent the portions mentioning Proteus and Triton. Otherwise, I feel like I created a successful translation because not much minimizing occurred throughout this process.
In all, this process added a new dimension that I otherwise would not have thought of, timing. Timing became a new aspect that grew in importance as I created the video because everything has to fall into place. Even the transitions are extremely important in order to switch scenes in a timely manner before the beginning of a new part of the narration. Timing is essentially a medium in itself. It connects each individual clip with all of the sounds from the narration and from the video itself. A poorly timed video can distract the reader from being fully involved with the poem. This led me to think of translation as an attempt to perfection and avoidance of criticism since people can tend to pay more attention to the mistakes rather than the accomplishments of a certain translation. Lastly, the process showed me the complexity of translation because it involves holistic approaches similar to the fundamental effort of distant reading, and it also involves attention to fine detail such as from close reading.