Sonnet Composed Upon A Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Please note that the information given on this poem is not meant to replace any material given in the classroom setting. It is a very BASIC giude to enable a literal understanding of the poem. Metaphorical interpretations should be sought in the classroom.
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in the text.
Earth has not anything to show more 4.fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its 5.majesty:
1.This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples Lie open upon the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
2.Never did sun more beautifully 6.steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
3.The river glideth at his own steep will:
Dear God! 4.the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Wordsworth, W. 'Sonnet Composed Upon A Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802' in A World of Prose. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views of others.
The persona in this poem is reflecting on the perfection of the city. He believes that there is nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the morning. Only a dull person would not appreciate such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm of the city.
The persona compares the manner in which the beauty of the morning settles over the city, to that of a garment on a body. This emphasizes the perfection of the beauty of the morning, just as a garment flows smoothly over a body.
- Lines 9-10: The sun is referred to as a male who rises sharply and beautifully. This emphasizes the beauty of the city in the morning. The use of this personification also helps the reader to personalize this beauty.
- Line 12: Like the sun, the river is personalized as well. This allows the reader to see the river as real, instead of a thing. It comes alive and we can visualize it's movement, gliding, as beautiful.
- Line 13: When some-one is asleep, they are usually peaceful. Therefore, when the persona describes the houses as sleeping, he is emphasizing the peace that exists in the city in the morning. The inhabitants of the houses are asleep, therefore the houses are quiet and peaceful.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
The word fair, in this context, literally means beautiful. The persona is setting the stage for the reader, introducing the fact that the city is beautiful.
This word implies that the city is regal in it's splendour. Therefore, it is beyond beautiful and has become stately.
This word describes the way in which the sun ascends into the sky. It is stressed that it does so in a beautiful manner.
The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his thoughts, and reaction to, the city in the morning.
The tone of the poem is one of awe.
Contributor: Leisa Samuels-Thomas