Study Guide

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 Awe and Amazement

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Awe and Amazement

Earth has not anything to show more fair: (line 1)

The use of exaggeration (hyperbole) give the impression of childlike wonder, of the world made fresh and new again. This is not a philosophical poem. It's a poem about a person's emotions "in the moment."

A sight so touching in its majesty: (line 3)

The speaker can only describe the beauty of the city using paradoxes like this one. Imagine telling a king that he's adorable, pinching his cheeks, and then bowing before him, and you'll get an idea of how the phrase "touching in its majesty" works.

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. (line 8)

The light on the buildings "glitters" like a precious metal. The speaker might be describing the play of the sun on some of the windows.

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! (line 11)

It's rare to feel completely at ease in a large city, so the speaker's statement is unexpected. The unusual silence of the city in the morning contributes to this feeling.

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; (line 13)

The phrase "the very houses" means something like, "even the houses." The way in which the vision plays against his expectations is important in this poem. The exclamation to God brings the tone to a higher emotional register.

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