Feelings and Emotions in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud Poem
The Romantic Poet, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) encapsulated a whole gamut of emotions when he wrote his famous poem about a patch of daffodils. He actually wrote two poems about the same subject, he improved on the first version and the second poem is the one which we know and love today. (The original is in the appendix at the end of this essay.) The first version was written in 1804, and the revised version was released in 1815.
The inspiration for Daffodils was set in train on April 15th 1802, when William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy were taking a leisurely stroll through Gowbarrow Park by the banks of Ullswater in the Lake District. They came across a large belt of daffodils stretching along the edges of the water. Dorothy Wordsworth was a recorder, she kept a very detailed diary, and she wrote a description of the scene in her book which her brother later used as a basis for his poem.
The poem itself on its first reading is charming in its simplicity. Wordsworth wrote four six line (quatrain-couplet) stanzas in iambic tetrameter using an ABABCC rhyming scheme. Wordsworth uses enjambment to convert the poem into a continuous flow of expression. (Enjambment being the running over of the sense and grammatical structure from one verse line or couplet to the next without a punctuated pause.)
Wordsworth describes the feelings and emotions that this group of flowers engender in him. The introduction shows him wandering aimlessly, as lonely as a cloud without any clear intention in mind when he suddenly comes across a band of yellow daffodils stretching into the distance. At this point in the poem Wordsworth makes use of hyperbole to describe the extent of the daffodils in his sight, ten thousand saw I at a glance.
He describes the flowers dancing in the breeze thereby giving them an almost human quality. The waves of Ullswater also danced, but Wordsworth felt that the daffodils outclassed the waves in beauty and joy. The daffodils are a symbol of natural beauty and represent in their light hearted fluttering dance the bliss and ecstasy of living a fulfilling life. One worth living. He felt that the scene was infectious, he couldnt help but feel happy amongst the group of flowers. He describes gazing on the scene without realising the profound effect it was having on him.
When it comes to the final stanza, Wordsworth switches from the past tense to the present tense as he explains what effect the memory of all this beauty and gaiety has had on him. He speaks about relaxing during quiet moments, and reflecting on the splendour of nature, as he remembers the great sweep of daffodils nestling at the waters edge.
In this last stanza, there are two lines,
They flash upon the inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
and these, according to William Wordsworth, were actually written by his wife Mary, who lived with him and his sister Dorothy in Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Wordsworth further declared that in his opinion, these were the two best lines in all the poem.
Today daffodils still blossom of the banks of Ullswater. The clouds still float on high over the hills and vales of the lake District. We too can relax in our own moments of solitude and read Wordsworths Daffodil poem sharing with him the beauty of nature in a world in which nowadays human society has largely destroyed our own connection to the natural world.
Wordsworths original Daffodil poem written in 1804:-
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high oer Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:-
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had bought:
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 replaced dancing with golden; Along with Beside; and Ten thousand with Fluttering and to create his 1815 revision. He also added a stanza between the first and second and altered laughing to jocund. He left the last stanza untouched.
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