Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Composed upon Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth (with notes)

    Written on the roof of a coach, on my way to France.

    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!

The above poem can found in:
  • Wordsworth, William. The Complete Poetical Works of Wordsworth. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1932
  • Construction of the original Westminster Bridge in London was begun in 1739 and completed in 1750. Construction of the current bridge began in 1854 and was completed in 1862.
    I found this post on a website called PotW.org - I love the bit about Wordsworth writing the poem on the roof of a coach - not on a bridge at all! I never knew that! Unless he composed the poem in his head on the bridge and later wrote it while travelling ... My guess is he lied as one does in poems all the time in favour of the emotional truth. Go William. 

    I wanted to post this poem here today because it's in my Faber diary this week, and reading it again, I realised afresh how marvellous it is in its evocation of a new day dawning, and the hugeness of a beloved city and its beating heart. 

    I also can't help thinking of London and its river and bridges and going to work in the morning on the tube and walking those bricked streets to work. The glory of it on the best days. 

    This week at the TP hub is a poem that couldn't be further from London or Wordsworth - check out the post by editor Robert Sullivan. 
  • 1 comment:

    Rethabile said...

    The poem is splendid (I was in London two days ago and we visited the Houses of Parliament). It captures the feeling. Though, today, alas, the air is no longer smokeless. Wordsworth has a knack for description.