'Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802'
‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802’ is a sonnet by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) describing London and the River Thames, viewed from Westminster Bridge in the early morning. Inspiration for the poem was provided by a journey made by Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy through London. The pair were en route to Calais where they were to meet William’s illegitimate daughter, Caroline, for the first time. At dawn they boarded the coach from Charing Cross to Dover. In her Journal, Dorothy described crossing Westminster Bridge, noting London’s beauty: ‘there was even something like the purity of one of nature’s own grand spectacles’. Wordsworth conveyed these feelings in his sonnet, completing it on their return journey in September. The speaker celebrates the majestic, ‘sleeping’ city, using the technique of personification.
Manuscript of 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802' by William WordsworthView images from this item (1)
Copyright: © Dove Cottage - Wordsworth Trust
- Article by:
- Philip Shaw
Professor Philip Shaw considers the composition of 'Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey', and explains how Wordsworth uses nature to explore ideas of connection and unity.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
Wordsworth’s vision of London’s serene beauty was composed on the roof of a coach - the poet was en route to France to meet his illegitimate daughter Caroline for the first time. Professor John Mullan explores the background to the poem.
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