Today in Arts History: A Poem By William Wordsworth

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
by William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850

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!

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A View of Westminster Bridge (oil on panel), Turner, Daniel (fl.1782-1801)

We left London on Saturday morning at 1⁄2 past 5 or 6, the 31st July (I have forgot which) we mounted the Dover Coach at Charing Cross. It was a beautiful morning. The City, St pauls, with the River & a multitude of little Boats, made a most beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster Bridge. The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke & they were spread out endlessly, yet the sun shone so brightly with such a pure light that there was even something like the purity of one of nature’s own grand Spectacles.

—Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal, 31 July 1802

One Reply to “Today in Arts History: A Poem By William Wordsworth”

  1. When i was a 19-year-old college student, I was able to buy a three month student Eurrail pass. Cheap. Sometimes I boarded the train for some random destination, an improvisational journey of discovery. Sometimes I boarded a night train just because I needed to a place to sleep. Waking up in a another country was the bonus. This is how the culture supported and enriched its youth then.

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