Learning check

1. Six questions

No study aids.  

a) What kind of poem is “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”?




b) The first eight lines are called:




c) The last six lines are called:




d) What is the metre?




e) Which adjective did Wordsworth use to characterize the sight?




f) Fill in the missing words:


“This City now does, like a _______________________________________________ wear


The beauty of the morning;”


“Ne’er saw I, never felt, a __________________________________________________ so deep”


Wider contexts

1. Biographical context/other genre: excerpt from Dorothy Wordworth’s journal; comparison.

From 1799 till Wordsworth’s death in 1850, Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy lived with him. Dorothy dedicated her whole life to her brother and his work. She kept a journal “because I shall give William pleasure by it”. She was a keen observer of nature and in her journal she wrote down the natural sights they enjoyed together, her immediate response to them, remarks her brother made, their illnesses, bad nights, what they did etc. Sometimes phrases from Dorothy’s journal reappear in Wordsworth’s poems, but it is seldom clear which piece was written first.

The sonnet “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” was dated September 3 by Wordsworth, which may be the day when he completed it, but the poem was actually written about an experience that took place on July 31, 1802 when Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy were on their way to France.

Dorothy’s diary has the following entry: “On Thursday morning, 29th, we arrived in London. After various troubles and disasters, we left London on Saturday morning at half past five or 6, the 31st of July. (I have forgot which.) It was a beautiful morning. The city, St Paul’s with the river and a multitude of little boats, made a most beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster Bridge. The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke, and they were spread out endlessly; yet the sun shone so brightly, with such a fierce light, that there was even something like the purity of one of nature’s own grand spectacles.”


Compare Dorothy’s and Wordsworth’s views of London.  


Wider contexts

2. Literary context: other poem by a different writer: William Blake, “London” p. 214.

Compare Blake’s view of London in “London”, p. 214 and Wordsworth’s view of London. Single out differences/similarities and comment on both poets’ attitudes toward the city. Back up your answers with quotes from the texts.


Wider contexts

3. Literary context: other text by a different writer.

Compare the views of nature expressed in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” and Eric Hoffer’s article “Nature and the City” p. 211.


Wider contexts

4. Literary context: modern parody “Composed upon Oxford Street”.

Windrush Press 2001) you will find a modern parody of Wordsworth’s poem called “Composed upon Oxford Street”. 

Roger Tagholm (1957-) is a British freelance writer and journalist who has written for many publications including  The Guardian, Punch and Nine to Five, London’s ‘commuter’ magazine. He is the author ofWalking Literary London (Globetrotter Walking Guides, 2001) and Poems Not on the Underground (1996), which is an anthology of parodies of great English and American poems.



grate gå på nerverne
rag klud, gammelt slidt tøj
de’file tilsmudse, forurene
tacky billig, tarvelig
fume røg, os
ca’cophany disharmonisk larm
tawdry billig, tarvelig
the Central the Central line of the Underground


a) Why is “Composed upon Oxford Street?” a parody of “Composed upon Westminster Bridge”? State your reasons. What technique is used here to parody Upon Westminster Bridge? Does the parody remain very close to the form of the original poem? (form, syntax, language, rhymes etc.)


b) What do you think the aim of the parody is in this particular case?

to shock   to amuse    to criticize   to give a different view of the city    other?


Wider contexts

5. Literary context: other poem by the same author: “The Tables Turned” p. 204.

Compare the view of nature expressed in “Composed upon Westminster Bridge” and “The Tables Turned”.