Our Perception of the Works of the Literature (daffodiles by William Wordsworth)
I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o’er vales and hills,
In these lines the writer says that he is wandering lonely as a cloud which floats over valleys and hills. How can a human have clouds’ characteristics, but we understand it because of the schematic knowledge in our mental cognition. We know a human can wander he has no certain destiny, and we have seen clouds floating on sky, which has no direction of its own but they float with the direction of wind. So a human can wander like a cloud, we have experienced that a cloud can be alone and it easily becomes victim of wind and it floats here and there with the wind. So a human wander too when he is no specific goal.
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
In these lines the writer is saying that when he was wandering all of sudden he saw a crowd, we can understand here may be the writer saw a large number of people who are standing in his way, but in next line he says a host of golden daffodils. From here we get the knowledge that actually he was calling daffodils the crowd.
Daffodils are flowers how can they gather and make a crowd. But we have image schema of crowd that, a crowd is a substantial number of people or individuals assembled in a wild or confused or wild manner. So we can understand this trough schematic knowledge the daffodils must be grown naturally in large number and are not organized so that’s why a writer is calling them as crowd.
He says that daffodils are welcoming him as a host. We have image schema of host as an individual who gets or engages other individuals as visitors. So here the daffodils are playing the role of host for writer, welcoming him and entertaining him.
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
In these lines the writer is saying flowers are beside the lake and beneath the trees and they are fluttering and dancing. Flowers do not have hands or legs how can they flutter and dance. But we can understand this comparison, through our schematic knowledge of dance, and movement of flowers. We know when wind blows the flowers or any other plant moves back and forth, and when person dances the body moves in direction and in different way. So we can understand the dancing of flowers.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
In these lines the writers is describing the beauty of flowers and he has used the schematic knowledge about the stars that stretch continuously as far as we can see, and stars twinkle and sparks, so are the daffodils. Here we understand that because of image schema of night and stars and flowers. Like the stars stretch continuously the daffodils also ramificate to the limits.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Flowers do not dance flowers do not get happy. But our schematic knowledge makes us believe that flowers can dance because of wind which creates tension in them and they toss and move. We understand the happiness of daffodils because of the scene that writer has tried to mention that it is a sunny day, wind is blowing. Through writer has not mentioned it clearly the day is sunny but we got the image when writer says that flowers are blinking and flowers can blink when sunlight reflect upon them, and because of sunlight we understand that it’s a sunny day.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
In these lines we understand the dancing of waves through our schematic knowledge about dance and the waves in water, there occur many waves in water when wind blows and flow of water becomes faster and waves in water seems like they are dancing, and sunshine the water is twinkling, sparkling and shining. But daffodils are more beautiful so they surpassing the beauty of shiny waves, though flowers do not have characteristics of surpassing anything but we know the surpassing meaning through image schema, and we understand the concept of writer.
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company:
In these lines the writers is saying that by looking at such beautiful scenery he couldn’t resist to be happy and he is enjoying the company of flowers. Flowers are not companions but through the schematic knowledge about how it is to be in the company of friends. We understand the happiness and cheer of writer.
I gazed’ and gazed’ but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
The writers gazed the daffodils for long time and thought that this vision has gave him the wealth of happiness. Nature doesn’t wealth to someone but we understand the concept by schematic knowledge that wealth is not just having money but peaceful and happier life is also a wealth.
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.
Here we understand that why the writer is so happy by having the company of daffodils. He has given the image of his life that he is lonely and he feels sad and empty. But the sight of daffodils have vanished his loneliness, and his heart is so happy that it also dances with flowers. Heart doesn’t dance but we know through our experiences that how it feels to be happy. The heart pounds and we can compare that pounding of heart with dancing.
Throughout the poem the writer has compared unlike things he has personified scenes. He started his journey alone and reached his destination by finding companion in the form of daffodils. Though writer has not mentioned his life at any point but we understand that he was lonely and aimless. And he had no means of happiness. But finally he got friend and happiness in nature.
Reading is a process which needs brainstorming to understand the vague ideas and complex connections that a writers make to bring beauty in the text. Reading process continuously alert readers brain, to understand the concept of writer with the users’ perceptions. Our perception and concept make image schema in readers’ mind. The cognitive, image schema is flexible which allows large and complex information to enter into it, and the more information enters image schema gets stronger. Therefore when read any piece of literature that contains complex metaphors, similes, personification we understand and dig out meaning of the writer. This will not be possible to understand if cognition is not fully developed. Our brain understands things which are not possible at all but get the idea and comprehend the text. William Wordsworth in his poem writes daffodils were dancing with joy, though flowers do not dance actually but we understand the moving of flowers back and forth with wind that might look alike as if flowers are actually dancing. The flowers hosted him and gave him joy and nature gave him wealth of joy. It doesn’t make any sense for a person who has never experienced nature, hasn’t been into it and felt the wind, the sparks of sunshine so understanding of these things would be hard. But for those it will make sense that have image schema of nature. Reading and understanding have become possible with schematic knowledge, and a reader can enjoy the classic piece of literature.
- Patil, J. B. (2004). Stylistic Analysis of the poem Daffodils’: A lingua–cognitive approach”. Cyber Literature: The International Online Journal Issue, 2, 0972-0901.
- Steen, G. (1999). Analyzing metaphor in literature: With examples from William Wordsworth’s’ I wandered lonely as a cloud’. Poetics Today, 499-522.
- Lakoff, G. (1990). The invariance hypothesis: Is abstract reason based on image-schemas?. Cognitive Linguistics (includes Cognitive Linguistic Bibliography), 1(1), 39-74.
- Cienki, A. (1998). STRAIGHT: An image schema and its metaphorical extensions. Cognitive Linguistics (includes Cognitive Linguistic Bibliography), 9(2), 107-150.
- Tseng, M. Y. (2007). Exploring image schemas as a critical concept: Toward a critical-cognitive linguistic account of image-schematic interactions. Journal of literary semantics, 36(2), 135-157.
- Cánovas, C. P. (2016). Rethinking image schemas: Containment and Emotion in Greek Poetry. Journal of Literary Semantics, 45(2), 117-139.
- Hedblom, M. M., Kutz, O., & Neuhaus, F. (2015). Choosing the right path: image schema theory as a foundation for concept invention. Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, 6(1), 21-54.
- Gross, S. (1997). The word turned image: Reading pattern poems. Poetics Today, 15-32.
- Gasper, K., & Clore, G. L. (2002). Attending to the big picture: Mood and global versus local processing of visual information. Psychological science, 13(1), 34-40.
- Saslaw, J. (1996). Forces, containers, and paths: The role of body-derived image schemas in the conceptualization of music. Journal of music theory, 40(2), 217-243.
- Semino, E. (1995). Schema theory and the analysis of text worlds in poetry. Language and literature, 4(2), 79-108.
- Maryam, A., & Rahman, R. (2015). Sense and Nonsense: Image Schemas in Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark. Kashmir Journal of Language Research, 18(1).
- Ibsch, Elrud, Dick Schram, and Gerard Steen, eds. 1991 Empirical Studies in Literature: Proceedings of the Second International Conference, Amsterdam 1989 (Amsterdam: Rodopi).
- Gibbs, R. W., Jr. 2005. The psychological status of image schemas. In B. Hampe (ed.), From perception to meaning: Image Schemas in cognitive linguistics, 113–135. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Kimmel, M. (2005a). From metaphor to the “mental sketchpad”: Literary macrostructure and compound image schemas in Heart of Darkness. Metaphor and Symbol 20(3): 199−238. — (2005b). Culture regained: Situated and compound image schemas. In From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics, B Hampe (ed.), 285−311. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Comparison of Two Works by William Wordsworth
After recalling an earlier experience in his life, William Wordsworth penned the meditative landscape poem, “Daffodils”. The tone of this poem conveys what the poet is sharing with the audience: an experience of delight and joy on the basis of observing nature, and later stopping to ponder it. In this poem, the Wordsworth takes his audience on a journey he has experienced and describes it step by step. Wordsworth starts his mental journey at the beginning of the poem in a lonely mood, is gleeful upon observing the daffodils, despondent upon leaving, and joyful in remembering them once again while alone in his dwelling. Because the poet takes his audience through his experiences, he can share his emotions with them, and the causes of his feelings. By making use of contrast and showing how he changes as a person, Wordsworth proves to his audience, in “Daffodils” that joy is only an indirect result of observing nature, because joy actually comes from introspection, thought, and contemplation of past elation.
Because “Daffodils” is a meditative landscape poem, by definition, the poet will reflect on nature, and Wordsworth utilizes this structure quite well in order to emphasize his point. Wordsworth describes everything in detail, sometimes with underlying meanings based on some reflection he has done. For example, in lines 1-2, the poet says, “I wondered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills.” The cloud he describes is a simile for how the poet wanders about and his emotional state at the time. A cloud is inconstant, easy to break apart and consistently on the move. This describes how Wordsworth feels at the beginning of his emotional journey: lonely. Like many poems, Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” is organized around a particular contrast. At this point, the poet is not simply in an indifferent state of being, he is in fact gloomy and cheerless. This contrasts greatly with the joy Wordsworth expresses at the end of this poem because of his realization that recollection can bring him joy.
In lines 3-4, the poet reveals to his audience more about what he sees and what that means to him. “When all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils”. The author comes across a bunch of daffodils, but the way he describes their cluster is interesting. He calls them a “crowd,” probably referring to their closeness about him and a “host”, an archaic way of implying a multitude. In using this word, the author could also be eluding to the fact that he feels nature to be welcoming him as a different type of host. This highlights Wordsworth’s Romantic ideas, and helps the reader understand why he is so joyful.
Looking at another work of Wordsworth, for instance, his poem “Lines Written in Early Spring” gives the reader more insight about this poem. In several ways, “Lines written in Early Spring” serves as a foil for the poem “Daffodils”. “Lines Written in Early Spring” is also a meditative landscape poem, making it an ideal candidate for this type of contrast. In “Lines Written in Early Spring,” pleasant thoughts for some reason immediately bring sad ones to the front of the poet’s mind. Lines 2-4 say, “While in a grove I sate reclined, in that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind.” In “Daffodils”, Wordsworth is not immediately saddened, however, in the poem he does not mention simply temporary bliss either. He claims he was at the time unaware of the treasure that was being stored in his mind, but that it brought him joy in future days to come. He says, “I gazed––and gazed––but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought” (lines 17-18). This relates to the author’s main point, in that he shows the reader how joy comes from not only nature, but also introspection on that past experience.
In lines 5-12, Wordsworth describes the scene around him with admiration and personification, and in lines 13-14, the poet describes the ‘dancing competition’ between the waves and the daffodils. When Wordsworth mentions that the daffodils are “beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze” (lines 5-6), he is referring to a lake near home, because he lives in the Lake District. These lines also show contrast because the “mood” or “actions” of the flowers differ greatly from that of Wordsworth at the poem’s beginning. The cloud he compares himself to is wandering and lonely, whereas this beautiful nature is beside the stunning lake and is dancing, as if for joy. Wordsworth continues to go on to describe the scene. He says the daffodils are “continuous at the stars that shine and twinkle on the milky way, they stretched in never-ending line along the margin of a bay” (lines 7-10). Wordsworth describes the daffodils as the opposite of his former self. He was as inconstant and fluctuating as a cloud wandering about, and these daffodils are constant as the stars, and continue on forever. In lines 11-12, the daffodils are described as dancing again and this time even “outdoing” the majestic waves themselves. The author’s feelings from the beginning can be contrasted with his feelings upon seeing the daffodils: “a poet could not but be gay in such a jocund company” (lines 15-16). However, upon returning home, the rush of delight leaves the poet, but the real joy debatably comes next. When he is all alone, either engaging is mind, or empty in thought, he remembers the daffodils, and this is what makes his heart dance with joy. Wordsworth finally realizes “what wealth the show to [him] had brought” (line 18). This contrast, between gloom and glee, accentuates the main idea Wordsworth is trying to get across.
Wordsworth claims in lines 16-17 that “a poet could not but be gay, in such a jocund company.” He claims that observing Nature’s beautiful dances can only bring him delight. However, this initial gladness is not what the poem is focused on. The main idea is encompassed in the poem’s final stanza:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They [daffodils] flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Wordsworth’s poem is about how introspection on past joy is what brings a person to experience the same emotion on a greater scale, even amongst other circumstances.
Wordsworth also affirms his main idea by varying his tense throughout the poem “Daffodils”. The first three stanzas are written in the past tense, because Wordsworth is relating a tale to his audience, and a sequence of events that occurred in the past. This contrasts with the final stanza, because it is written in the present tense. This slight difference between stanzas shows that the joy Wordsworth feels does not cease, but is ongoing, based on how often he recollects his expedition through the daffodils. He now can be joyful at any time if he simply remembers and reminisces on his experience of joy with the daffodils. Wordsworth makes the final stanza stand out on purpose, because it is the stanza where he concludes his main idea, and finishes proving it. In addition to tense differentiation, Wordsworth closes the poem with the topic of description and the very title of the poem: the word daffodils. This wraps up the poem cleanly, drawing attention to the end.
Wordsworth probably held the poem “Daffodils” in particular with high regard, because it seems he wanted all people to be able to both enjoy it, and remember it. The diction and vocabulary he uses is not as intricate or complex as some of his other poems, yet the message he sends with “Daffodils” is just as profound. Wordsworth believed everyone should ponder and enjoy nature, so in making this poem more unpretentious, though still including his signature flowery language, he gave a variety of people the ability to understand how man must contemplate to achieve joy. The rhyme scheme of “Daffodils” is elegant, yet simple, making it easier for the reader to commit to memory. The rhyme scheme is ABABCC consistently throughout the poem, unifying it, and imprinting the way it flows onto the heart of the reader. In particular, the stanzas are divided as separate parts of Wordsworth’s emotional journey, and the stanzas and clearly closed by the couplets he includes that the end of each. “Daffodils” is in iambic tetrameter, making it easy to learn by heart because the English language is naturally spoken in iambs. Because Wordsworth made an effort to make “Daffodils” comprehensible, it is clear that he believes the point he is trying to get across is very important. He believes anyone can arrive at joy by musing over their past memories about being immersed in delight, specifically those caused by nature.
Wordsworth succeeded in communicating the message behind “Daffodils,” and his poem lives on today in the minds and hearts of his admirers. At the end of the poem “Daffodils”, it is clear that the delight the poet feels is not based on his present circumstances of simply lying thoughtless, or an opposite current situation of being deep in thought. His joy instead comes from the remembrance of beauteous nature, and how it affected him when and saw it, compared to its lasting results. Wordsworth shows this effectively throughout his poem by creating a timeline of the events that changed him. He ends his poetical journey with a type of happiness that can never go away, and he hopes his audience will take the same new insight from his experiences: recollection and reflection on times of fortune brings the same gladness to the front of one’s heart.
What he was like before
What he is like during experience
What he is like when he leaves
What he’s like when he remembers
He may not fully understand the true reason: that because man is made in God’s image, when nature brings God pleasure, it also delights man’s heart.