Sunday poetry – William Wordsworth

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!

5 thoughts on “Sunday poetry – William Wordsworth

  1. This is one of my favorite poems so it's fun to see it here. Trivia –it was used as a clue in one of the Michael Innes' mysteries (don't remember the title). Susan E


  2. Susan, I've read a few of Michael Innes's books but it was a long time ago. I'd love to know which one refers to this poem if you ever remember it! Charmed Lassie, I didn't know the poem until I saw Owen Sheers' program but I was immediatly attracted to the quietness & the sense of dawn in a big city. I may even read some more Wordsworth on the strength of it!


  3. I've never been a big fan of Wordsworth, myself (a bit tumpty-tumpty, particularly Daffodils!) though when I studied the Romantic poets last year, as part of an Open University course, I discovered some of his poetry wasn't too bad! :o) Composed Upon Westminster Bridge was one of his poems that I liked. Thanks for reminding me about it. :o)


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