Stylistic Devices in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud Poem
Simplicity of Life in William Wordsworth’s
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
In William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” the speaker reminisces about a past experience in which he viewed a valley of daffodils swaying in the breeze. As he relives the scene, the speaker realizes the true beauty he hound that day. The poem illustrates that the simplest things in life often go unnoticed, when in reality, they are the most important. As a result, it is not until after the simplest things are gone forever that their importance is realized. Wordsworth clearly expresses through his choice of similes, personification, and diction that the simple things in life, such as nature, should be treasured.
Wordsworth uses simile to incorporate the significance of simplicity in life. The speaker begins his recollection with the emptiness he holds inside as he “wandered lonely as a cloud /That floats on high o’er vales and hill” (Wordsworth 1-2). This symbolizes the speaker’s need for something more fulfilling in his journey through life. Often, clouds wander aimlessly through the sky until they merged with more clouds to fill their emptiness. The speaker, perhaps feels separated from everything in life and is floating through the daffodils in hopes that he will discover fulfillment, similar to the aimless cloud being united with other clouds. The speaker does not recognize that purpose and happiness can be found in the patches of daffodils. It is the peaceful atmosphere of nature that allows a person to reflect on life and achieve inner harmony. The speaker deeply regrets not recognizing this at the time, but is thankful that he has the memory of this magnificent experience. Perkins notes that during his interaction with the beautiful scenery, the speaker (as the cloud) is the only object unaffected by the breeze as expressed in the poem (Perkins, 194). This echoed the speaker’s ignorance to the beauty of the scene at the time and communicates the importance of never taking the simple things for granted.
Through another simile, Wordsworth highlights the importance of the simple things in life by comparing the daffodils to the vast stars in heaven. The speaker expresses how the daffodils are “Continuous as the stars that shine/And twinkle on the Milky Way” (Wordsworth 10-11) because of the brilliant abundance he sees. Once again, by associating another part of nature, Wordsworth highlights the significance of nature in life. According to Brennan, associating the shining profusion of stars with flowers evokes a certain cause of sublimity: magnificence (Brennan, 141). Wordsworth uses this sublime splendor to illustrate that simplicity, such as ordinary daffodils, are just as fulfilling as something as magnificent as the stars.
In order to emphasize the importance of simple occurrences of life, Wordsworth incorporates personification into his poem. As the speaker gets his first glimpse of the daffodils he recalls that they were “Fluttering and dancing in the breeze (Wordsworth 6) as if they were celebrating a joyous occasion. The daffodils enchant the speaker with their carefree spirit. By personifying the daffodils, Wordsworth compares the flowers to humanity, therefore, causing the speaker to see that small and simple things are important to his future happiness. Moreover, the speaker recalls how the flowers stretched in never-ending line (Wordsworth 9) while “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance” (Wordsworth 12). The way the daffodils are brought to life makes the speaker realize that all he is lacking has been right in front of him. Through personification, Wordsworth displays the beauty and significance in choosing to appreciate the small moments in life.
The use of clear and precise diction is another way Wordsworth symbolizes the benefit of the simple aspects of life. As he recreates the scene in his mind, the speaker compares the daffodils to a “crowd” and a “host” (Wordsworth 3-4), therefore conveying the huge host before him, but foreshadowing the effect they will have upon him later. Furthermore, he adds the touch of “golden” (Wordsworth, 4) to the speaker’s description of the daffodils to emphasize the beauty of the flowers. The importance of the small things in life is clearly expressed through Wordsworth use of diction.
In his poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, Wordsworth uses elements, such as similes, personification and diction, to communicate the importance of getting the most out of life. Similar to the speaker, many begin to think that satisfaction in life is achieved through such things as material wealth and success. Ultimately happiness is achieved by being passionate and sentimental about past experiences and absorbing all the simple things of life.
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