July 7, 2005
Natalia J. Garland
Terrorists attacked London, England, on July 7, 2005. We have all
watched the news reports, viewed the horrific images, and listened
to the political analyses. My approach will be to honor the
victims by presenting a post-7/7 interpretation of a poem by the
British poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Although Wordsworth
usually wrote about the beauty of nature, in the following poem
he wrote about the beauty of a city: London.
Composed Upon Westminster Bridge.
Earth has not any thing to shew more fair:
would he be of soul who could pass by
sight so touching in its majesty:
City now doth like a garment wear
beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
unto the fields, and to the sky;
bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
did sun more beautifully steep
his first splendor valley, rock, or hill;
saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
river glideth at his own sweet will:
God! the very houses seem asleep;
all that mighty heart is lying still.
the beauty of a city, specifically its buildings and ports, to the
beauty of the earth's fields and valleys. Anyone unwilling to
perceive such beauty must be dull of soul. I can imagine the
terrorists as having this dullness. They seem determined to
discount anything of value in America, Europe, and Great Britain.
Yet, Wordsworth felt that London was majestic in its culture,
businesses, transportation, architecture, and arts. How dull
the minds of terrorists, to live among Londoners and as Londoners,
and not to cherish these bright accomplishments.
In the poem, London
is appreciated as a calm presence in its dark and early morning
hours before people begin going to work. This, I believe, was
well within the grasp of the terrorists. That is to say, they
conspired in secret darkness against innocent and defenseless
people. The terrorists found openings, places that were asleep,
and they struck. They killed everyday people who were working for
a living, they disrupted business, they destroyed transportation
facilities, they burdened the city's emergency resources, and they
attempted to induce despair.
But London has a
mighty heart, both in 1802 and in 2005. Londoners returned
to work the next day. The nation that produced Wordsworth, that
survived the bombings of World War II, bravely continued to
conduct business as usual after 7/7. Perhaps the terrorists need
to stroll across Westminster Bridge, gaze at the city, and
acknowledge the worthiness of other governments and lifestyles.
Wordsworth was not
naive to unemployment, poverty, crime, and other problems of big
cities. However, he was able to contemplate beauty wherever and in
whatever forms it manifested itself. Wordsworth kept writing into
his old age. I hope Londoners will likewise keep going to work,
living as fully as possible, and rightfully protecting their
nation for the rest of their lives. Let no one despair, but find
validation and courage in a poem written by Wordsworth.
(Written 07/13/05: bibliography available.)
Until we meet