I’ve never been a great fan of Wordsworth’s poetry (picture above from here). I’ve always preferred Coleridge & the later Romantics like Keats & Byron. But, I saw a fascinating series on TV presented by Owen Sheers, A Poet’s Guide to Britain, & it changed my mind – well, about this poem at least. I think I was attracted by the fact that this poem is not about the Lake District, not a daffodil or majestic mountain in sight. It was written in London, when Wordsworth & his sister, Dorothy, were on their way to France to meet with Annette Vallon, the woman Wordsworth had fallen in love with years earlier. They were seperated by the Revolution & Annette had brought up Wordsworth’s daughter who he would now meet for the first time.
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge is a beautifully quiet poem. Day is dawning, the busy city is just waking up, & maybe Wordsworth is contemplating the journey ahead & the reunion to come.
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!