Dalal Z Jayyousi
Professor Samir M Rammal
The Impulse of Pastoral on Society and Literature
Analysis of Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"
William Wordsworth's "I wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is a well-known cheery lyric which focuses on the poet's perception of the beauty of nature. It was written in 1804 and it was first published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes. Wordsworth revised and republished the poem again in Collected Poems in 1815.This revised version has remained a classic which most people read today. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Wordsworth (1770-1850) may be considered the Granddad of romantic poets. He is associated with "the early 19th century movement of Romanticism". (Shmoop Editorial Team). One could argue that the picturesque Lake District, where the poet lived had had a deep influence on his response to nature's beauty. In the preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads "1800", Wordsworth presents his definition of poetry: Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility : the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually disappears , and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. (Wordsworth and Coleridge, 1800).
In my opinion, "I wandered alone as a Cloud" corresponds well with Wordsworth's definition of poetry. It deeply portrays the poet's interaction with nature in very plain language. The poem was inspired by an experience the poet had in company with his sister, Dorothy, on April 15, 1802. Typical of Wordsworth poetic style, the poem describes in ordinary everyday language how his loneliness is relieved by a field of daffodils. This experience is evident in Dorothy's journal in which she wrote, "But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them-daffodils- along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road". (Dorothy's Journal. Online copy). Henceforth, this experience had influenced the poet's life and given him relief whenever bored or stressed out. In this poem, he probably wants to tell us that some little moments of life could be the most profound of all. The poem is in four stanzas of six lines each. The first line of each stanza rhymes with the third and the second with the fourth. Then the stanza ends with a rhyming couplet. The first three stanzas focus on the sight and experience, but the last one concentrates on the memory of that experience and its inspiration. In a short summary of the poem, we can say that while wandering like a cloud through the hills and valleys, yet he felt all lonely, the speaker happens upon daffodils dancing in the breeze on the bank of a lake, beneath trees. There were thousands of them and all were dancing. They stretched in a seemingly endless line which reminds the speaker of the Milky Way, a very brilliant galaxy. The daffodils' merry dance outdo that of the waves...
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