William Wordsworth’s literary classic, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ has been dissected methodically for explicating the poet’s mood, the surrounding location, the allegorical meanings, and the beauty of nature in full motion. The poet’s love and proximity with nature have inspired and moved generations-after-generations of poetry aficionados and young minds.
Explore I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 1 Summary of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 2 Themes in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 3 Structure and Form of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 4 Literary Devices in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 5 Analysis of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 6 Historical Context to I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
- 7 Similar Poems
- 8 About William Wordsworth
Summary of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
The speaker, likely William Wordsworth himself, is walking aimlessly down the hills and valley when he stumbled upon a beautiful field of daffodils. The speaker is transfixed by the daffodils seemingly waving, fluttering, and dancing along the waterside. Albeit, the lake’s waves moved as fervently but the beauty of daffodils outdid with flying colors. The poet feels immensely gleeful and chirpy at this mesmerizing naturalistic sight. Amongst the company of flowers, he remains transfixed at those daffodils wavering with full vigor. Oblivious to the poet is the fact that this wondrous scenery of daffodils brings the poet immense blithe and joy when he’s in a tense mood or perplexed for that matter. His heart breaths a new life and gives him exponential happiness at a sight worth a thousand words.
Themes in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Throughout ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ Wordsworth engages with themes of nature, memory, and spirituality. These three are tied together as the speaker, Wordsworth himself, moves through a beautiful landscape. He takes pleasure in the sight of the daffodils and revives his spirit in nature. At the same time, Wordsworth explores the theme of memory, as he does in other works such as ‘Tintern Abbey’. The flowers are there to comfort him in real-time but also as a memory from the past.
Structure and Form of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
The poetic form of ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ is composed of four stanzas of six lines each. It is an adherent to quatrain-couplet rhyming style, A-B-A-B-C-C. Every line conforms to iambic tetrameter. The poem Daffodils works within the a-b-a-b-c-c parameter as it uses consistent rhyming to invoke nature at each stanza’s end. Moreover, it helps in creating imagery skillfully as the poet originally intended. The poem flows akin to a planned song in a rhythmic structure. Consonance and alliteration are used to create rhymes.
Literary Devices in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Wordsworth makes use of several literary devices in ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’. These include but are not limited to similes, hyperboles, personification, and allusion. Similes are also used since the poet alludes himself to an aimless cloud, as he takes a casual stroll. Moreover, daffodils are compared to star clusters in Milky Way to explicate the magnitude of daffodils fluttering freely beside the lake. At times, hyperbole is used to explicate the immensity of the situation. The allusion of daffodils to stars spread across Milky Way is one such instance. Furthermore, the daffodils are even made anthropomorphous in order to create a human portrayal of Mother Nature in this instance.
Moreover, the poet has also used reverse personifications, equating humans to clouds, and daffodils to humans with constant movement. Using this clever tactic, the poet brings people closer to nature, becoming a hallmark of William Wordsworth’s most basic yet effectual methods for relating readers with nature, appreciating its pristine glory. Daffodils celebrate the beauty of nature and its purity, along with bliss of solitude. He deems his solitude as an asset and inspires him to live a meaningful life.
Analysis of I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
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
The poet explains about his one day occasional aimless wandering. The term “wandered” means walking free of their own accord. The poet is referring to himself as the ‘cloud’ in a metaphorical sense of the word. Although the clouds mostly travel in groups, this cloud prefers singular hovering. However, he clearly mentions his passing through valleys and hills on a routine walk, simplifying the narrative.
The poet comes across a bunch of daffodils fluttering in the air. He’s dumbfounded by the beauty of those golden daffodils. Although, yellow would be more suitable for daffodils the poet intends to signify its beauty by using golden color. The daffodils are termed as hosts/ crowd since they are together in a collective bunch. The daffodils are a source of immense beauty for the poet hailing from the Romantic Era.
Besides the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way
The daffodils are firmly perched beside a lake, beneath some trees. It’s a windy day overall and the flowers dance and flutter as the wind blows. Let’s take a step back for a brief moment to locate the premises of the poet’s inspiration. The poet resided in the infamous Lake District, a region rich in scenic locations entailing hills, valleys and lakes. As a result, the location is realistic in its entirety. The poet refers to daffodils dancing, a trait relatable to humans.
The above allegory is a clear and direct referral to our native galaxy Milky Way. The space continuum holds great mystery for our Romantic Era poet as he envisions the daffodils to be in a constant state of wonder as are the stars beyond the reach of humans.
The stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance
The poet makes an allusion to Milky Way, our galaxy filled with its own planetary solar systems stretched beyond infinity. The lake supposedly has a large area since the daffodils are dispersed along the shoreline. Along the Milky Way’s premises lie countless stars which the poet alludes to daffodils fluttering beside the lake.
By ten thousand, he meant a collection of daffodils were fluttering in the air, spellbinding the poet at the beauty of the scene. It’s just a wild estimation at best as he supposes ten thousand daffodils at a glance. The term sprightly comes from sprite which is primarily dandy little spirits people deemed existed in such times. They are akin to fairies.
Historical Context to I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Hailed as the champion of the Romantic Movement in the early 19th century, William Wordsworth dwelled in scenic Lake District (United Kingdom), far from the madding crowd. Its roots can be traced back to Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, in which she reminisces, a casual stroll with his brother in 1802, where they came across beautiful daffodils. The poem was composed within the time period of 1804-1807 and subsequently published in 1807, with a revised version published in 1815. The poem is considered as a masterpiece of Romantic Era poetry steeped in natural imagery. Walking along the Glencoyne Bay, the siblings stumbled across beautiful daffodils along the bay. As the sister’s journal recalls, the daffodils seemed immensely beautiful from a far-off view, it was truly a magnificent sight.
One of the obvious choices is Wordsworth’s own ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey‘. in this poem he also explores memory and how beautiful natural places and be comforting even from the distant past. Other good examples include ‘Hymn to the Spirit of Nature’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley as well as ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by W.B. Yeats and ‘To Autumn‘ by John Keats.
About William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) wrote beautiful poetry filled with sweet imagery, usually based around the natural world. Often his poem contained slight somber undertones, as is the case in this poem as we will explore shortly. This is possible due to the conflict In Wordsworth’s life and his battle with depression. Some scholars suggest that Wordsworth’s relationship with his sister, Dorothy was far from plutonic. But Wordsworth did marry and lived with both his wife and sister.
Wordsworth lived through the French Revolution, which he at first supported and later rebuked. Wordsworth, along with close friend and fellow poet, Samuel Coleridge were pioneers of the romantic era of poetry, and Wordsworth’s earlier romantic poems were widely derided as a result of this. He was also the poet laureate for queen Victoria for a period of seven years.