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On this day William Wordsworth (1770-1850) wrote his sonnet Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802. Instead of taking a photo or painting a picture, he crafted an image made of words, vividly describing the city of London and the Thames River. Like a postcard, his poem is permanently postmarked by its title, providing both the time and place it was composed.
The original manuscript of the poem bears a note that provides more details on the circumstances surrounding its composition: “Composed on the roof of a coach, on my way to France” (1).
Unlike the typical bucolic scenes of his romantic verse, in this poem Wordsworth describes an urban scene:
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; (lines 4-10)
Today’s Challenge: Vivid Views in Verse
Follow Wordsworth’s model by painting your own picture in words. What are the most unforgettable scenes that you can remember witnessing? What made them worth capturing in descriptive words? Select your single most vivid, memorable scene to immortalize. Then, craft your description of the scene in a postcard poem. Select from your rhetorical palette the best devices to paint your scene: metaphors, similes, sensory imagery, and concrete diction. Strive to show rather than tell. Try to evoke the scene in your reader’s imagination, and postmark it with your title: the place and time of composition. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
1-The British Library. Manuscript of ‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 by William Wordsworth. Public Domain.