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Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Themes

City, 1. Countryside, 0. The city wins! OK, so if you took the whole of Wordsworth's poetic works, the score would probably run more like: City, 6. Countryside, 250. Few writers, past or present, have expressed their love for rural life quite so much as Wordsworth. Maybe that's why it's somewhat surprising to hear him say that he never felt so calm as he did when standing on London's Westminster Bridge. He seems surprised himself. Maybe the answer to this riddle is that Wordsworth integrated the city into his general vision of the countryside, breaking down the barrier between the two. But we still think he would have been very unhappy if he had been forced to move to London permanently.

Questions About Contrasting Regions: City and Countryside

  1. Would you guess that the speaker is native or foreign to the city? Why?
  2. Do you think that the speaker is aware that he is using exaggeration in calling the vision the most beautiful that earth has to offer?
  3. Do you think that the Wordsworth's sense of calm had anything to do with the fact that he was in the process of leaving the city? Why or why not?
  4. How do the poem's images juxtapose the city with the countryside? Where can you tell these two regions apart?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The city's freshness is more beautiful than the freshness of the countryside because it runs counter to expectation. The element of surprise accounts for the speaker's enthusiasm.

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