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Analysis Of The Poem Westminister Bridge

3843 words - 16 pages

LINES COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE 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, 5
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 the sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; 10
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!

Earth has not anything ...view middle of the document...

* These lines hint that maybe the morning, not London itself, is responsible for the stunning quality of the view. As in, the garment could be so beautiful that it doesn't matter what the person wearing it looks like.
silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
* The words "silent" and "bare" are positioned in the poem such that they could describe either the morning or the sights. Because of the semi-colon before them, the sights are the more obvious choice, but the ambiguity is important.
* The setting is "silent" because of the early hour which, from Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, we know was around 5 or 6am.
* "Bare" is an interesting word that means "naked". It contrasts with the image of the city wearing clothing from line 4. Here, the ships and buildings are nude.
* One source points out that London had fields that were close to the city in 1802 but that no longer exist
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
* He focuses on the early morning summer sunlight, which makes the buildings "bright and glittering." The word "glittering" in particular suggests that the scene is not static but rather constantly changing with the shifting light.
* Our favorite word in the poem is "smokeless." What a word. He means that neither the characteristic London Fog nor smoke from chimneys obscures the bright light.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
* The speaker returns to his bold claim from the beginning of the poem: that earth has never presented a scene quite so beautiful as this one.
* Specifically, he compares the morning sunlight falling on the city to the sunlight that might cover more remote parts of the countryside, such as a valley, a boulder or mountainous cliff ("rock"), or a hillside.
* These sights would have been more familiar to Wordsworth than the scenery of London, who spent most of his life in rural parts of England, such as the picturesque Lake District in the northwest part of the country.
* " Basically, he's ragging on his hometown, saying even it can't compare with this view of London.
* The word "steep" means to submerge or cover – think of how you let a tea bag "steep" in water.
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
* The speaker seems to again compare London to places that you would normally think of as calming, like the hills and valleys from line 10.
* This section of the poem engages in the personification of various elements of the picture. Here the river is described as a patient person who takes his time and doesn't allow himself to be rushed. He moves according to "his own sweet will."
* The river Thames is not a fast-moving river.
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
* You would think the speaker couldn't possibly get more excited about this view...

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