"Composed upon Westminster Bridge, Sept. 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, theaters, 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 splendor, 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!
Some comments and questions:
- (1) W. is (already was) well known for his poetry about
nature. So this topic is a surprise, not only for his
readers but for him himself, we may feel. "Dull would he be
of soul who ...": he's almost arguing with himself that
it's okay to be moved by such an UNnatural phenomenon.
- (2) "touching in its majesty" : say something about the
different connotations of these two words. They're
surprising found together, no?
- (3)"Ship towers domes ..." : you get the point of view? From
the Thames bridges (since the river is wide) you can see a
lot of the city architecture -- roof tops, etc.
- (4) "Open unto the fields": meaning what?
- (5) Notice the change of direction or topic (one sentence
ends and another begins: in fact the octave is a single
sentence, notice!) at the sestet.
- (6) People have said good specific things about the
personification that's everywhere. "The heart" is a fairly
stale image for the metropolis, but he brings it alive
- (7) Of course, the "lying still" gets its force and power
from our knowledge that very very soon it will be full of
bustle, noise, smoke, etc. etc.
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