A Close Reading of 'Daffodils' by William Wordsworth

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A Close-Reading of ‘DAFFODILS' By William Wordsworth

The poem ‘Daffodils' by William Wordsworth reflects the inherent connection between man and nature, which is so commonly found in his poetry; for example, in ‘Tintern Abbey', and ‘The Two-Part Prelude'. In my essay I am going to explore and analyse the variety of figurative devices Wordsworth uses to communicate this idea, and the poetic motives behind his writing. ‘ Daffodils' is essentially a lyric poem which is expressive of the feelings of joy the poet encounters when seeing the multitude of daffodils. In the preface to The Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth writes that "poetry is the image of man and nature". Wordsworth uses a variety of figurative devices to communicate this idea: for example, in the first line of the poem he uses reverse personification in representing himself metaphorically "as a cloud". Wordsworth then proceeds to personify the daffodils as humans, "dancing" (line 6) and "tossing their heads" (line 12). He also personifies the daffodils as a "jocund company"(line 16), suggesting the flowers have feelings just as humans do. Again, there is the suggestion of unity between man and nature when Wordsworth describes himself as feeling ‘gay' in the company of the daffodils. The fact Wordsworth shows himself and nature as interchangeable, signifies the close relationship there is between man and nature in the Wordsworthian world. The poetic diction Wordsworth uses depicts nature in a positive, almost heavenly light ; for example, "a host" of daffodils, suggests perhaps a congregation of angels. The choice of the word ‘host' is, I think, deliberate –it has far more connotations than the word ‘crowd'. Also its position at the start of the line helps to emphasise not only the sheer multitude of daffodils but also the immediacy of impact on the beholder. Such description creates a feeling of nature as a Utopia. The image of a lone cloud, wandering and floating aimlessly, is in stark contrast to the energetic "dancing" flowers who ride on the continuous beat of the poem. Here an effective contrast is drawn between the solitary shape of the cloud and the hyperbolically depicted "ten thousand" dancing flowers, which seems to suggest nature's immense power over mankind. This contrasting imagery correlates to the change from the poet's quiet, contemplative mood to one of almost ecstatic jubilation at the sight of the daffodils.The poet could also be suggesting that nature is continuously beating in the background all the time with a distinct purpose, whereas humans are often aimless, indecisive and purposeless. Wordsworth was a firm believer in the power nature held over man, and man's incapability of calculating the extent of this power. These contrasts challenge the reader to think about the connection between man and nature, and to examine the seemingly inextricable relationship between them.

The imagery used to describe the daffodils reflects both the beauty and the consistency of nature. The daffodils are both "golden"(line 4) and "continuous"(line 7) stretching in a "never-ending line".(line 9) This is a powerful image in the poem because it builds a picture of nature as an eternal and inextinguishable force. In addition, the structure and metre of the poem play an important part in reflecting the consistency and regularity of nature. The poem is written in four six-lined stanzas of quatrain couplets, with a neat rhyming scheme of ABABCC. This rhyming pattern and also the regular iambic tetrameter give the poem a consistent flow. I think Wordsworth has used this poetic form to show the omnipresence of nature in the world in which we live. Paradoxically, however,in spite of this highly regular poetic form and rhyming scheme, nature, with all its abundance, seems to be presented as an expansive,free force. I would say that Wordsworth is simply trying to create a sense of the continuity of...
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