William Wordsworth’s poem Upon Westminster Bridge is a sonnet

William Wordsworth’s poem Upon is a sonnet, it creates a pleasurable passage that is easily read and understood while still accessing a great deal of emotion and image form. It gives different readers, many different interpretations of what the poem is about, the images and emotions felt, yet still maintaining the secret of what Wordsworth himself would have had in mind about the meaning of the poem.

Upon Westminster Bridge creates for the reader that sense of awe that was felt by William Wordsworth whilst gazing upon the view of London and this awe can also be felt by the readers themselves. This sense of awe can be seen from the very beginning of the passage, “Earth has not anything to show more fair:” just the language used is like a spell cast upon the reader giving off a sense of calmness and tranquillity. This feeling in the language is reflected in the atmosphere of the time in which the poem is set, early morning, just as the sun is starting to show above the horizon. Where the citizens of London are still in bed, the busy city still asleep and motionless.

The impression of religious symbology can also be felt in this poem. “Dull would he be the soul who could pass by…” the word “soul” in this line gives the reader the impression of a reverential tone. Soul is a word that is used mostly in a religious context and having it in the poem lets off the feeling of the peace, and heavenliness. “Dear God! the very houses seem asleep…” this can be taken as an emphasis on the reverential tone of the poem. “Dear God!” this reference to God fits in and confirms the “soul” and heightens the religious atmosphere.

The first stanza in this poem is like an opening to the rest, an appetiser. “A sight so touching in its majesty:” The use of sight, so, its, majesty, is to put emphases on the soft sound of the “s”. This softness is linked to “touching”. This magnificent view is only softly touching him, the poet, with all this to take in he hasn’t yet absorbed the full beauty. This can be seen as one of the most important and meaningful lines in this passage, it uses stillness and serenity, creating the mood, and linking the setting to the poet’s feelings at the time.

William Wordsworth uses similes in this poem to connect a lifeless thing like the city of London, to humanity, and the natural world to create a unity of all three. “This City now doth like a garment wear The beauty of the morning”, humans wear clothing, gowns to make us look more beautiful. What this line is saying is that the city wears the morning like a beautiful gown, and the morning is making the city look more splendid, giving it the connection to humans and making it come to life.

The use of words with short syllables can make the reader feel informed. It helps capture a huge amount of detail in very little words. “…Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie open unto the fields, and to the sky…” looking at this the reader would start slow and read faster and faster as the list progresses, this is the influence of short syllable words. This paints a mental image in the reader’s head as if watching a movie, an elaborate scene with beautiful scenery, and the camera pans across slowly at a constant rate capturing every flower, every tree, hill and a small bee flying across the screen. “…Open unto the fields, and to the sky.” “In his first splendour valley, rock or hill” and amongst all this artificial beauty of towers and ship the beauty of nature still manages to show through and enhance the whole image.

The last stanza raps up the whole of the poem; it recreates the mood of awe and also puts in a little shock. “Dear God! the very houses seem asleep”; this time the “Dear God!” is used in a different way. It serves the purpose of heightening the religious feeling, but also heightens the awe and pushes it into shock. It is used almost in a blasphemous way; using God’s name in vain.

William Wordsworth’s appreciation of beauty is revealed not only in the images and similes he chose to use, but also in the gracefully modulated sentences. The rhyming of the last word in the first and last stanza reinforces the reverence Wordsworth felt all his life to the God he understood to be in all nature. Wordsworth’s personality and poetry were deeply influenced by his love of nature, romanticising what he saw in the natural world.

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