Composed upon Westminster Bridge

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

by William Wordsworth 

Earth has not any thing 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!

Summary of Composed upon Westminster Bridge

  • Popularity of Composed upon Westminster Bridge: William Wordsworth, a great romantic poet, wrote “Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802”. It is a superb composition about natural beauty. It was first published in 1807, in The Collection Poems, In Two Volumes. The poem speaks about the speaker’s beautiful encounter with nature in a fine morning. It also illustrates how it puts a sweet pause in our busy lives and provides us with a chance to breathe in harmony. The poem tells about nature and its pivotal role in man’s life.
  • “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” As a Representative of Nature: This poem is an expression of wonder. The poem begins with a phenomenal view of London city and the River Thames. The speaker, being a silent observer, says that there is nothing more blissful than this enchanting sight. He adds, anyone who passes without enjoying this lovely view, surely possesses a dull soul. To him, this beautiful morning appears like a blanket over a calm city. He lists the things he sees around in a pollution-free environment. Stunned by the bounties of nature, he tells the reader that the sun has never sprinkled its rays on the earth like this. Also, he has not experienced such peace and joy before this. The poem unfolds man’s connection with nature in this short piece.
  • Major Themes in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”: Man versus nature and amazement are the major themes of this poem. The speaker, being a lover of nature, not only stops to adore the glories of nature. However, he also feels sorry for those who have missed this delight. He catches these wonders early in the morning when the world is at rest, and there is no hustle or bustle around. Moreover, the uncontaminated environment allows him to get a clear glimpse of theatres, temples, ships, domes, and natural objects. While venturing out to take in that special atmosphere, he says that he has never felt so much calm in his life before.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”

Literary devices are tools that represent the writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices that the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Wordsworth has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /o/ in “Dull would he be of soul who could pass by” and the sound of /i/ in “All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /l/ in “splendour, valley, rock, or hill;” and the sound of /h/ in “And all that mighty heart” and /s/ sound in “Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty.”

  1. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. Wordsworth has used this device in the opening lines poem as he exaggerates about the beauty of London city. For example,

“Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The river glideth at his own sweet will” and “This City now doth, like a garment, wear.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. In the fourth line “This City now doth, like a garment, wear”, the city is personified.
  3. Simile: It is a figure of speech used to compare an object or persons with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “This City now doth, like a garment, wear

Analysis of the Poetic Devices in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “hill/will”, “deep/asleep” and “by/sky.”
  2. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter having five iambs per line. The poem follows iambic pentameter such as; “And all that mighty heart is lying still!”
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues to the end.
  4. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen lined poem usually written in iambic pentameter. This Petrarchan sonnet consists of one octave and one sestet.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful to describe one’s beautiful past experience that left a permanent mark on one’s memory.

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.”