Earth hath 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 splendor, 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!
That’s “Upon Westminster Bridge” by William Wordsworth. A new friend reminded me of it recently, after I’d dragged him through my city. I remember reading it in college and thinking to myself how perfect Wordsworth’s moment in time must have been as he absorbed London in its bare simplicity.
I love those moments in London. The rare occasions that you’ll find yourself somewhat deserted, the traffic and chatter of rushing crowds dulled in a cloud of peace. All that’s left is a crisp skyline of intricate and juxtaposed shapes and spires in light, all broken up by the vein of the Thames, which seems so still in the day and so restless at night.
I’ve been out walking lately, determined to spend some more time in “nature” which is so contrary to my very being that I’m wholeheartedly surprised by such a yearning. When I was a kid my parents were fans of walks, and I was convinced it was just to irritate us. Sunday afternoons in particular, there was a McKee family walk. All I wanted to do was bunker down with a book, but I could be found in a forest or alongside a canal, complaining about rocks in my shoes. It’s easy to see where my city-love was born. But here I am, quite often craving the peace that comes with immersing oneself in the green of springtime, grass at my ankles, sun in my eyes. Londoners are lucky to have so many parks at a stones throw: I’m visiting them more and more, missing my family but enjoying that this part of my childhood is creeping back in. Something stuck.
Meanwhile, my good friend Garrett came through London and we got to hang out a little. Which made me miss my alma mater and the boundless fun that I had while employed there. It seems like decades ago, and I allowed myself to wish for a moment that I could relive a semester or two.