Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
by William Wordsworth

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!

(Image is Claude Monet’s Thames Below Westminster, c. 1871.)

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2 Comments to Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

  1. nbm's Gravatar nbm
    September 5, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Notice how Wordsworth only likes the city when it is silent and motionless; the moment when the work and life of man lie dormant under Nature’s perfection. Hmm, is he hinting that the majesty of this calm depends upon the contrast with the usual busy beating of the “mighty heart”? Thanks for making me think freshly about this poem.

    For anyone else who’s curious, the image is Claude Monet’s Thames Below Westminster, 1871, from the National Gallery, London.

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