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William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802


Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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Read poems about / on: city, river, beauty, september, sky, sun, god, heart, house

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  • Andrew Hoellering (4/28/2009 11:15:00 PM)

    The sonnet’s octave is a minute description of the early morning scene that unfolds before the poet’s eyes; the sestet his reflections on the impact of what is being described. Because of its graphic details the poem manages to be both objective and personal; meaning it is both visually vivid and true to Wordsworth’s feelings, which he enables us to share.
    As in all great poetry, the soundscape is vital and it is clearly written to be read aloud. The opening three and last two lines describe the impact of the scene; the rest picture in detail on what the poet’s feeling response is based.
    We are forced to stress ‘Open’(line seven) which is implicitly opposed to concealed; what you see is what you get, and the dancing vowel sounds in ‘ all bright and glittering in the smokeless air’ confirm Wordsworth’s delight in the scene he is silently witnessing. The simile ‘like a garment’ is likewise brilliant, suggesting the closeness of the beauty he describes both to the city and the morning.
    The repetition of ‘never’and ‘n’er’ again emphasises that impact, and the line, ‘Dear God, the very houses seem asleep’ is an exclamation that seems to escape the poet despite himself.
    The last line, ‘And all that mighty heart is lying still’ is again tremendous, for we know the city will be waking up shortly and pulsing into life.

    8.6/10? You must be joking! (Report) Reply

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