What is Wordsworth's attitude towards the city of London in his poem "Composed upon Westminster Bridge?"

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In the canon of English literature, few poets have eulogized nature as Wordsworth has. The poems expressing his love and wonder for the countryside and nature abound in the oeuvre of Wordsworth. However, his poem “Composed upon Westminster Bridge,” is all praise for the city of London. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, London was the center and pivotal point of industrial revolution. Therefore, when Wordsworth, the leading romantic poet of his age, sings the praises of the city of London, it takes his readers by surprise.

The very first sentence of the poem about London sets the tone of the sonnet:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:

It’s actually the sight of London at the time of dawn that has evoked such powerful lines from a worshiper of nature. The poem captures Wordsworth’s experience of witnessing the splendor of the industrial capital in a morning when he along with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth was on the way to France.

The “touching” sight of the city leaves him completely spellbound. Praising its beauty, he says, one must be devoid of any taste for beauty that would “pass by” Westminster Bridge without stopping for a while to appreciate the magnificent scene:

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

The city looks extremely beautiful chiefly because of the effect of the dawn. Personifying London, the poet says, “like a garment” it has worn “the beauty of the morning.” The first rays of the sun make the industrial town look dazzling and impressive.

Wordsworth, in a way quite unlikely of him, picks up man-made objects and structures to describe their elegance.

... silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

“Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples” are “silent” and “bare.” They are “all bright and glittering in the smokeless air.” The city air is unpolluted and fresh. When the rays of the rising sun fall on the city and its structures, he feels the joy and peace he had never experienced before. He claims,

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

He then goes on to describe the beautiful Thames that glides at its chosen slow pace. The houses “seem asleep” in the early hour of the day. In the final line, the poet describes London as “that mighty heart” now “lying still.” This implies that soon it would awaken to its hustle and bustle as the sun rises higher in the sky. 

This powerful sonnet rhapsodizing about the most powerful industrial city of its time takes Wordsworth’s readers by surprise. Consider the following hyperbolic statements about the city of London:

Earth has not anything to show more fair:

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;


Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

It seems that the poet must have been surprised to discover the splendor of London in the early morning. The poem exaggerates his own experience of surprise.

However, it must not be forgotten that Wordsworth doesn’t praise London in the absence of nature. In the poem, the city is not in discord or disharmony with nature. Instead, it appears enthralling when it's seen against the backdrop of beautiful nature. It’s the morning sun that makes the city look so beautiful. The following line further expresses the effect of nature on the city:

silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky.
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