Study Guide

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 Man and the Natural World

By William Wordsworth

Man and the Natural World

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.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What is the effect of the personification of the sun and river?
  2. In what ways does the city resemble a natural space in this poem?
  3. How might the speaker's appreciation of the city change if it were crowded with people?
  4. Why would the sunlight be more beautiful on buildings than on natural landmarks like valleys and hills?

Chew on This

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.

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