Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

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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 clam 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!


      The poem Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, was composed on 31st July, 1802. It was “written on the roof of a coach on my way to France at about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning” (Wordsworth). Before leaving for France, Wordsworth along with his sister Dorothy stayed in London for a few days. Dorothy has given the following account in her diary of the morning walks in London. “July 30, left between 5 and 6 in the morning....A beautiful morning. The city...St. Paul’s with the river, a multitude of little boats...made a beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster Bridge. The houses not overhung by their clouds of smoke, were spread out endlessly, yet the sun shone so brightly with such a pure light that there was something like the purity of tone of Nature’s own grand spectacles.” The poet carried the impression of these morning walks and then gave outlet of his feelings in this poem.

      Wordsworth felt deeply touched by the great beauty of London at the morning time. The city seemed to be wearing the garment of morning’s glory. Ships, towers, domes, theatres and churches stood glittering under the smokeless sky. The poet had never seen such beauty and calmness in valleys, rocks or hills. In that profound calmness, the great city appeared to be lying asleep.


A Poem of Nature

      Wordsworth was the greatest poet of Nature. He brought poetry back to Nature from the artificialities of the eighteenth century. Man to him is an essential part of nature. In his description of London in the poem, Wordsworth takes no notice of the countless people—walking or asleep, happy or sad-living in the great city.

Wordsworth: A Poet of Calm Nature

      As a poet of Nature Wordsworth is mainly interested in Nature’s calm, aspects. The fearful and terrifying aspects of Nature are ignored by him. The picture of London as seen from the Westminster Bridge in the clear light of the early morning is calm and placid:

Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

As a Sonnet

      Westminster Bridge is a sonnet. It has fourteen lines. It can be divided into two parts of eight and six lines. Its rhyme scheme is that of an Italian sonnet. It rhymes abba abba: cd, cd, cd.

Contrast between Noise and Calm

      Wordsworth brings out beautifully the sense of contrast between the commercial character of the city during the day with its quiet and peaceful look in the early morning when the sun has just risen. The noise and bustle of the great city is still, and all is quiet, calm and silent. There is vivid description in the poem and we can see in our minds eye the ships, towers, domes and churches lying silent and glittering in the early morning’s smokeless air.

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