Sonnet: Composed Upon Westminster Bridge by Wordsworth
Wordsworth said, late in life, that Composed Upon Westminster Bridge was ‘written on the roof of a coach, on my way to France’. This statement does not agree with the date ‘September 3, 1802’. We know from Dorothy’s Journal that they crossed Westminster Bridge on their way to France in the early morning of July 31. But they were back in London from August 31 to September 22. Perhaps this sonnet was cast in its final form on September 3.
Wordsworth is of the view in this sonnet that the sight of London in the light of the morning sun excels any other beautiful scene of the earth. He who remains untouched by such a grand and impressive sight is dead to all senses of beauty. Now the city is clothed in the bright light of the morning as with a garment. Ships, towers, domes, play-houses and churches can now be seen spreading into the horizon and becoming one with the surrounding fields and the sky above. The air is free from smoke and all objects of the city look bright and shining.
The rays of the rising sun never fell so beautifully on the valleys, rocks, or hills as they fell on London that day. The poet has not experienced such a wonderful quietness in the atmosphere at any other time. The Thames is moving freely without being disturbed by boats and ships. It appears to the poet that even the houses are asleep. He feels that the mighty heart of London has stopped beating and it is lying calm and quiet.
As a poet of Nature, Wordsworth was allergic towards the commercial life of London. The confusion of London taught him to recognize the fragments of rustic things and aspects of eternal things found amidst the rush and roar.
In Composed Upon Westminster Bridge we find Wordsworth as a poet who considers London as a part of the country. Here nature has reasserted her dominion over the works of all the multitude of men; and in the early clear¬ness the poet beholds the...