...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 25, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day: Wordsworth

The lawyer i work for at my summer job is a brilliant and very literary guy. He makes me realize how little i really learned in school about literature and poetry. He can recite T.S. Eliot and Keats from memory; it's quite impressive. But he has a Masters in English, which i don't have.

Today we had a long conversation about art and poetry and he mentioned that he loved Wordsworth. i said that the only poem i remembered by Wordsworth was one about London, which i discovered while i lived there for a short time. He said "oh yes, the sonnet 'Composed on Westminster Bridge'" i said, "um yah, that one." He then recited it from memory.

Way to make me feel uneducated, dude.


Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

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!

i love that poem because it's as atmospheric as the Monet i posted up above, which i saw in person at the National Gallery. "This City now doth like a garment wear/ The beauty of the morning; silent, bare." Reminds me of so many lovely mornings i spent walking to class through the ancient gray city. Just lovely.

Posted by annika, May. 25, 2005 |
Rubric: Poetry


One of the few I took away from my non-liberal arts education.

Makes me want to go back to London, and I haven't felt that way for years.


Posted by: shelly on May. 25, 2005

Hey, I have a Master's in English as well and every Wednesday I drop here I feel dumb. About the only thing I can tell you from memory about grad school is "Dude, it's two-buck Crown Royal at the Bulldog tonight. Let's hit it."

Posted by: ken on May. 25, 2005

I've got a doctorate in English church history and I usually end up misquoting poetry and embarrassing myself. It's a fine choice, this one.

Posted by: Hugo Schwyzer on May. 25, 2005

Unlike Shelly, I miss London pretty much constantly, but this makes it MUCH worse, so thanks! :-p And the only poem I can recite from memory is "Jabberwocky."

Posted by: Dave J on May. 25, 2005

When I was at the National Gallery I rested my foot upon the 15" high rail which keeps the public back three or four feet from the paintings. A security guard very politely asked me to remove my foot. I am the very American that Pepsi lady was excoriating for poor behavior. If only I had heard her speech beforehand.

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 25, 2005

I SPEAK English, and I think that he's trying to get in your pants.

Posted by: Casca on May. 25, 2005

OMG, you are working for Rompole of the Bailey.

Posted by: jake on May. 25, 2005

and the irony is that Wordsworth hated cities. He was one of the great reactionaries against the industrial revolution. All of his other poems are about the birds and the trees and the flowers and the bees. You might have noticed this poem celebrates an urban beauty peculiar to the morning, while everything is still sleeping; that is to say, before the chimneys start chugging out their smog and spoil the sleeping beauty of the city.
Had Wordsworth wandered across Westminster Bridge a few hours later his poem would have been very different.

Posted by: lighterate on May. 27, 2005

Heh, quit having fun, and get your skinny little ass back here and post! I have needs.

Posted by: Casca on May. 27, 2005