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.
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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: […]