William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge
September 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, 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 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!
William Wordsworth, the greatest of the Romantic poets, gloried in nature, but here he reflects upon the inspiration of urban London as he experienced it from Westminster Bridge. Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland, the son of an attorney. He was educated at Hawkshead grammar school and at St. John's College, Cambridge. Both his parents died by the time he was thirteen and he was brought up by relatives. He spent some time in France shortly after the French Revolution whose cause he espoused and in 1797 moved to Somerset with his favourite sister, Dorothy, where he developed a close association with Coleridge. Generally considered the greatest of the Romantic poets, Wordsworth's most creative poetry is his early work with its main themes of the English countryside and the revolutionary spirit of the age. Of his later work, The Prelude, published posthumously, is the most significant. He became Poet Laureate in 1843. From http://www.englishverse.com/poets/wordsworth_william.