What is the theme of "Composed upon Westminster Bridge"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What is strange about this poem is that Wordsworth, a Romantic poet who focussed so much on the beauty of Nature and the countryside, takes as his topic the city of London and treats it with a distinctly Romantic flavour. This sonnet praises the quiet and shimmering beauty of London in the light of an early morning. Throughout the poem Wordsworth uses personification to present the city and its houses and so on as humans, emphasising the peace of tranquility of his view:

This City now doth, like a garment, wear

The beauty of the morning...

The theme of this poem thus seems to be that cities can inspire similar feelings of "calm so deep" as Nature can, and in the final line, Wordsworth uses a paradox to present us with a final image of tranquility and silence:

And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Of course, hearts by their very nature never lie still, yet from his viewpoint, Wordsworth is able to imagine the "heart" of the country, London, "lying still" as he savours the peace and relaxation that the sight gives him. Such a poem allows us to see that Romanticism does not exclusively focus on Nature, and that similar themes can be found in poetry describing cities, which were normally seen as the anithesis of the simplicity and beauty to be found in nature.

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