A. Answer the questions before you read the poem.

  1. You are going to read a poem about a city (written at the beginning of the 19th century). What images do you think the poet included in his poem?
  2. Recollect William Wordsworth's attitude to nature. What do you think is his attitude to a city? How will he describe it?

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B. Listen to the poem and read it.

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

fair: beautiful
garment: (formal) a piece of clothing
bare: empty
unto: (old meaning) to
glittering: shining brightly with flashing points of light
smokeless air: in the nineteenth century, houses were heated by wood and coal and smoke hung over the city almost continually. The absence of smoke is due to the season (summer, when no heating is needed) and the time of day (early morning, when no one is cooking and factories are not working).
steep: to soak or bathe in a liquid
splendour: the impressive beauty
ne'er: never
glideth: glides (moves in a smooth and easy way without any noise).
at his own sweet will: the way he chooses, as he wants
the very houses: (used for giving force to an expression) even the houses, the houses themselves

C. Answer the questions.

  1. How do the first three lines keep the reader in suspense as to the subject of the poem?
  2. The title of the poem is "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge". What city is being referred to in this poem? What is the name of the river?
  3. Whom does the poet describe as having a "dull soul"?
  4. What time of day is it?
  5. What is compared to a garment?
  6. What makes the city look beautiful?
  7. What does the poet feel? What is the mood of the poem?

  8. What language devices (figures of speech) are used in lines 4-5?
  9. Where else in the poem can you find figures of speech?
  10. Find and explain two examples of hyperbole.
  11. Find an example of paradox. How do you understand it?
  12. Does the poet state openly or imply the contrast between the momentary stillness of the city and its usual bustling activity? Where does he do it?
  13. How do you understand line 12?
  14. Why is 'that mighty heart' a good metaphor for a city?

  15. How many lines does the poem consist of?
  16. Find an eye rhyme (words which look alike but do not rhyme because the sounds are different).
  17. What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?
  18. What is the form of this poem? Where did you meet this form before?

D. Learn the poem by heart.