Monday, July 09, 2007

Wordsmiths: Upon Westminster Bridge

The sand has been trickling down the hourglass at breakneck speed. I've now actually been in London for a year! It's miles away the biggest city I've ever lived in, and there are plenty of times when I still feel like an overawed kampung (village) boy. It's a little bit of a love-hate relationship really - there are some days when it's nice to be in a place with a bit of a buzz, and I absolutely love crossing London Bridge and marvelling at Tower Bridge (the true belle of the bridges) on the way to church every Sunday. But there are plenty of times when it's really hard going, and it's easy to feel lonely in such an enormous place.

So today's poem pays tribute to 12 months in this global city. It's a well-known piece by a well-known poet, the gangsta rapper Wordsworth himself (ok, so Byron was the true rock star). Come to think of it, when I went to Oxford for my interview, I was asked to analyse this. Can't remember a single thing I said!

This poem describes London from the standpoint of a person passing through Westminster Bridge in early morning. But, this being a Romantic poem after all, it also tries to pinpoint a moment of revelation - an "Aha" moment when the persona sees London as it should be, free from pollution, subservient to Nature ("open unto the fields...smokeless air"), a throwback to more superior classical times ("ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie"). It is a living city - notice how just about everything gets personified. Ultimately, Wordsworth, as the Romantics commonly did, saw something transcendent about the scene. I wouldn't go that far. :>

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!


- William Wordsworth
Thank you, Lord, for seeing me through the past year, and help me to keep trusting in you even though I find it so hard.

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