This poem is a classic example of someone being taken by surprise by beauty and just staring at it, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. On the other hand, the neatness and precision of the sonnet form might seem at odds with the speaker's spontaneous bursts of joy. We don't know too many people who speak in Petrarchan sonnets when they're happy. Also, the speaker spends a significant portion of the poem talking about how great the scenery is rather than describing it. The second half of the poem contains more description than the first.
Wordsworth was attracted to the scene by the juxtaposition (or contradiction) of a chaotic metropolis that seemed to be resting or "asleep."
Despite the absence of most people at such an early hour, Wordsworth "peoples" the city with inanimate things like the light, the river, and the houses.
The poem makes clear that London is not entirely responsible for its beauty in the morning. A number of factors, including the unusual absence of any fog and the way the light strikes the ships and buildings, combine to make a perfect scene. Because the speaker knows that such a combination does not happen very often, he thinks that a person would be foolish just to pass by, assuming there will always be other chances to see such beauty. The speaker believes you have to take advantage of such opportunities when you have them.
The poem expresses the speaker's desire to stop time, to prevent the city from ever "waking up."
The image of a beautiful garment implies that the city is like a blank canvas that nature adorns, rather than something possessing beauty on its own.
Wordsworth is the quintessential nature poet. In this poem, London seems like a part of nature rather than a separate sphere of existence. Contrast Wordsworth's attitude with the attitude of William Blake in his poem "London," from the Songs of Experience, in which the city teems with unnatural political and social problems. "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge" takes the view that the city can be surprisingly restful, and the speaker goes so far as to compare it favorably with the solitude of nature.
Wordsworth's use of personification attempts to paint the beauty of nature as an achievement of human culture.
The poem tells us very little about how Wordsworth feels about everyday city life. He abstracts the buildings and landmarks of London from their inhabitants.
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.
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.