A City yet Slumbering

“Composed upon Westminster Bridge” by William Wordsworth

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 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!

If you’ve ever had the privilege of walking through a city yet slumbering, you no doubt felt the magical quality so perfectly described by Wordsworth as “[t]he beauty of the morning.” From my own memory of such times, I don’t recall if the restful stillness or the anticipation of the thrilling buzz impressed me most, but there is certainly no denying that the moments of silence which tend to precede the periods of activity are especially noteworthy.

As cities are often used as a metaphor for states of consciousness, I cannot help but note the parallel in this consideration to the quiet, “morning” time in the mind which should rightly precede the periods of lively mental activity. Such times are to my mind the most beautiful phase of the creative process, despite the fact that they are often ignored or worse, filled with dissipative blathering.

A city yet slumbering, a thought yet forming are best treated with reverence and childlike wonder. In the realm of thought, it is at this point that prejudices, worries and fears are wont to flood in. These negative mental constructs tend to crowd out appreciation, wonderment and other qualities, which are essential to not only seeing, but participating in the process by which all things are made new.

Consciousness, after all, is the mechanism by which either more of the same or something new is made in our experience. It is the means by which human beings transmute the invisible feeling impulses into “visible” thoughts, words, and deeds. When consciousness is functioning correctly, these impulses course from within outward and from above downward.

The failure to take deep breaths and enjoy this part of the creative process will result in a state wherein everything feels rushed, chaotic, and inwardly pressing. Successfully handling this phase, however, allows one to breath with nature herself, to respect the cycles and seasons in which we are contained and over which we shall never be masters.

3 thoughts on “A City yet Slumbering

  • So much contained here! The freshness of morning always conveys to me a sense of the depth of Divine forgiveness. No doubt there are those things which can be spoiled permanently, and yet life seeks always to renew, and for us to cooperate with that natural process there must be renewal of thought and feeling on a regular basis.

  • Blended with the natural cycles and seasons as the river glideth at his own sweet will. It does take a reserved reverent time to be in such a flow. Evening time sanctification is a vital part in allowing morning newness to be seen for the generative possibilities of activity for our lives and the day at hand.

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