Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

westminster-bridge

On the last Thursday of each month Poetry Spotlight will share some of my favourite poems. This will include poems which have impacted on me at various stages of my life and poetry I have discovered on Social Media, through the excellent blogs I read daily.

The first poem in this feature is William Wordsworth’s, Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.

The poem has meaning for me for several reasons. I was born 10 miles from Wordsworth’s birthplace in the Lake District. His poetry was a part of the school curriculum and this was one of his first poems I was introduced to.

As a young boy, the poem would bring visions of standing on Westminster Bridge, savouring Wordsworth’s view across the Thames and the lure and bright lights of London. Little did I know that in February 1983 the visions would become reality when I became a police officer in the city.

Over the next 30 years I lost count of the number of times I stood on Westminster Bridge and recited the words of the poem. As time progressed the meaning of the poem changed as, through my work, I was exposed to the dark underbelly hidden in London.

Standing on the bridge, watching the Thames flow by and replaying Wordsworth’s vision, in 1802, always brought a sense of peace and calm, a reminder there were still great things to savour about the metropolis.

Over 200 years later London has changed from the one Wordsworth saw and wrote about. The houses never sleep and the mighty heart is never still. Enjoy.

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!

Do you have a favourite poem you would like featured in Poetry Spotlight? Please let me know.

24 Comments

It’s beautiful. Thank you Davy

Liked by 1 person

Yes, Davy. The power of the poetry remains, long after the scene has changed. That view still has majesty, and Wordsworth remains my all time favourite poet.

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A beautiful poem and I enjoyed reading about what it means to you

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My goodness, the verse is extraordinary. Thank you for starting my day with this beautiful poem and reflection. ☺

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Wow, Davy–I was awed by what you shared personally; I had a very real sense of how you felt, standing on that bridge…mulling over Wordsworth. I appreciate experiencing that “flash” across time and miles, so thank you.

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what a beautiful poem! I think it’s so interesting how words can mean such different things to different people and conjure up different thoughts and feelings. One of my favorite poems is The Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, if you haven’t already read it, I think you might like it.

Liked by 1 person

    Thank you Eli, and I am glad you enjoyed the poem. I have not read the ode and will take a look at it. Thank you for the suggestion and for taking time out to comment on the blog.

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Great poem and thanks for posting it. Reminds me to go back and read some of this classic poetry. Also reminds me of my time in London as a student in the late 80s.

Liked by 1 person

Your personal “journey” with this poem and the poem itself is such a delight to read, Davy. It is also fascinating that Wordsworth, I think, delivered my first taste of poetry. I was in elementary when we were tasked to memorized his “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. 🙂

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