William Wordsworth left London with his sister, Dorothy, in the early morning on 31st July 1802 on their way to travel to Calais. Wordsworth was struck by the simple beauty of the cityscape and later composed a sonnet entitled, Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.
|Westminster Bridge and Abbey by Daniel Turner, 1800|
The sonnet is a love letter to London in its waking hours, blanketed by the morning sunlight and an all-enveloping silence. Here in the heart of the city he experiences a deep peace that touches his should and fires his inspiration, finding in this man made environment a perfection to rival nature itself.
For one so closely associated with poetry of nature, it is a surprise to read such rhapsodical lines addressed to the capital but reading the sonnet one can share in those early morning moments, the Georgian city yet to wake from its slumber.
Earth hath 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 splendor, 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!