B. "Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802." Poems in English 1530-1940, ed. David Daiches. New York: Ronald, 1950. Pp. 320. The following link contains general instructions.
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 4
The beauty of the morning;
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. 8
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: 12
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that. mighty heart is lying still!
1. Briefly give an interpretation of the sonnet.
2. Give two examples of hyperbole. Explain how these are effective in the context of the poem.
3. "A sight so touching in its majesty" is an example of paradox or oxymoron. Explain why this example might be interpreted as the poem's most important image.
4. What effect on the reader does the personification of London have in line 14?
5. What is the attitude of the speaker at the close of the poem?
6. The sonnet form was not much practiced in England between Milton in the mid-seventeenth century and Wordsworth in the early nineteenth century. Which form of the sonnet has he chosen, and how does he employ the octave and sestet to convey his theme?
7. How do the first three lines keep the reader in suspense as to the subject of the poem?
8. Explain how the line beginning "This City" conveys at once a description of what is observed, and the observer's mood.
9. How is the contrast between the momentary hushed stillness of the city and its usual bustling activity implied, even though not actually stated?
10. For general discussion: how does line 8 create a sense of shimmering beauty?
Incorporated in the Victorian Web 24 June 2003