Daffodils by William Wordsworth

Throughout Daffodils (or ‘I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud’ as some people refer the poem to), the tranquil tone and peaceful imagery along with the steady flow of rhymes implies the joyful yet peaceful feeling of being on this cloud. The way the speaker attributes his own feelings to parts of nature, shows that he feels one with his surroundings when he is in this place. For three stanzas, the speaker describes a kind of utopia, where peace and joy abound. In the fourth stanza, however, he reveals that his time in this perfect place was short lived, and that reality is different from his experience wandering as a cloud. However, this experience has obvious, long term effects on the speaker.


We liked this poem so much we've analysed it three times
‘Daffodils’ has been analysed separately by three different members of the PoemAnalysis.com team of poetry experts, to provide as detailed a critical analysis as possible of the poem.


Daffodils Analysis (1)

Stanza 1

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.

In the first stanza of William Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud” the speaker uses first person to personalize what he says and to give more depth and meaning to his words. In the first line, the speaker uses melancholy diction to describe how he “wandered lonely as a cloud”. He then shifts to a euphoric tone when he describes the “host of golden daffodils”. He uses descriptive imagery when he says that they were “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”. The reader immediately senses that the speaker has brought him to a Utopia. The peaceful language and the description of the beauty allow the reader to feel carefree and at ease.

 

Stanza 2

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.

In the second stanza, the speaker shifts his focus from the daffodils and compares them with the “continuous…stars…that shine and twinkle on the milky way”. The speaker allows to reader to experience the majesty of seeing “ten thousand [stars]…at a glance”. At this point, the reader begins to sense that he is not on earth anymore, but rather in a place full of majesty and beauty, perhaps heaven or some other form of afterlife. Throughout the poem, rhyme and rhythm help it to flow smoothly, giving the readers a continued sense of utopian peace. The rhyme scheme, ab ab cc, is an integral part of bringing the reader a sense of rest and peace. This stanza not only allows the reader to feel the sense of peace the speaker feels, but also to feel life. This is not simply a peaceful place; it is full of life. Figurative language and personification are used when the daffodils are described as tossing “their heads”. This gives the readers the feeling that this peaceful, utopian place, is also lively and spirited.

 

Stanza 3

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:

The third stanza continues the personification describing how the waves “danced” and the daffodils “out-did the sparkling waves in glee”. This continues to give readers a sense of peace and joy combined with lively action. The personifications of the daffodils also reveals their effect on the speaker as he regards them with life and attributes to them the ability to feel “glee”. The speaker then shifts the focus back to himself as a poet when he says, “A poet could not but be gay”. This portrays the effect the dazzling daffodils had on the speaker. When he says, “What wealth the show to me had brought”, it shows that the mere sight of the golden daffodils somehow enriched his life and brought wealth to him. The use of the word “wealth” reveals that this sense of peace and joy are worth more to the speaker than money or other worldly wealth. This also gives the reader the idea that some things are worth more than money and worldly goods, such as peace, joy, and life.

 

Stanza 4

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.

In the fourth stanza, the speaker shifts from a peaceful, joyful tone to one of pensive thought. He also comes down from the cloud and reveals the reality of his current physical state. Even though he no longer sees the dancing waves and the golden daffodils, he reveals that he will never forget them when he says, “they flash upon that inward eye”. The speaker reveals that he not only still has the memory of the daffodils, but that he has also kept the memory of how they made him feel. He reveals this when he says, “And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils”. This gives the reader the sense that the speaker has either been dreaming, or has had an experience in which he caught a glimpse of heaven. It leaves the reader with a yearning to find that perfect place of utopian peace.

 

Historical Context

William Wordsworth was not without his share of loss. In fact, he lost his mother when he was seven, and his father when he was thirteen. As if that were not enough loss for one person, three of his children preceded him in death. This background gives this particular poem greater meaning. The poem reveals that the speaker feels far more comfortable and peaceful when thinking about the afterlife than he feels at home on his couch in real life. This reveals a sense of longing for what is after, and a sense of disappointment in earthly life. This experience of wandering as a cloud was either a dream or a vision, a glimpse of heaven. Whatever this experience was, it is clear that Wordsworth holds on to the memory of this experience to give him hope in life.

This poem has been analysed by our team of poetry experts three times. Use the links below to read another analysis.

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  • Avatar DECLERCQ Hugues says:

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