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Poetry Analysis Notes



 

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
interpreted by Sony Verma

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.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretch in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid 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:

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.


Poet: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), an English Romanticist, was born on April 7, 1770, at Cockermouth, England. When he was eight years old his mother died, so he and his three brothers were sent to live with two uncles and attend Hawkshead Grammar School. He acquired a solid foundation in Classics, math and science at this school, and at Hawkshead, Wordsworth found his love for nature and his talent in poetry. Eventually Wordsworth studied at St. John's College in Cambridge. Before his final year, he went on a walking tour of Europe to France (in 1790). As it was the second year of the French Revolution his trip greatly influenced his poetry and political beliefs (he was strongly influenced by Jacques Rousseau). After he graduated he returned to France he became a strong supporter of the French Revolution and fell in love with Annette Vallon. Following his abrupt return home, Wordsworth spent two rough years: his relationship with uncles broke, he was separated from Annette and his infant daughter, his feelings were divided between England and France, and his friends got in trouble for supporting the French. After he was reunited with his sister Dorothy, Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with who he became very close friends. In 1799, the three moved into Dove Cottage in Grasmere. Coleridge and Wordsworth helped each other in many works, and they worked together on Lyrical Ballads and The Prelude. Later, after the town's nickname "Lake country," Wordsworth and Coleridge became known as the Lake poets. In 1802 when it was safe to return to France, Wordsworth took a second trip; he ended his relationship with Annette and he met his daughter Caroline. The same year, Wordsworth married to childhood choolmate, his cousin Mary Hutchinson, and back in England he moved to Allan Bank and later to Rydal Mount. For the rest of his life Wordsworth wrote poetry and prose, which were often influenced by several family deaths, misfortunes, politics, and occasional walking tours. Towards the last twenty years of his life, he became famous: he was named an honorary Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford and Poet Laureate (in 1843). By the time William Wordsworth died, on April 13, 1850, he was practically considered to be the greatest poet in the world.

Vocabulary: host - n. A great number; a multitude
jocund - adj. Cheerful
company - n. A group of persons; a troupe of dramatic or musical performers

Type of poem:
Lyric

Speaker: A thinker-most likely William Wordsworth, the poet himself

Audience:
The general audience, but especially to those persons who do not realize the beauty of nature

Tone: Light-heartedly excited, relaxed, and respectfully appreciative tone of voice

Meaning:
The character in this poem recalls one time he was taking a nature walk as if he was a cloud, when all of a sudden he came upon a field of daffodils that stretched as far as the eye could see (lines1-10). The breeze swept across the area made the daffodils seem as if they were dancing, and so fluently and aesthetically that they outdid even the waves in the sea (lines11-14). Although this scene had caught the character's eye and made him feel merry at the moment (lines 15-16), it was not until much later that he realized what he truly gained from the little incident (line 18). Often when he thinks of nothing or is relaxing, he reminisces the dancing daffodils and just the thought overwhelms him with bliss and pleasure, the greatest wealth a person can get (19-24). Symbolically between the lines of this poem, Wordsworth tries to tell his audience to detach from the busy worldly life and not only notice the beauty of simplicity, purity, and nature, but acquire from them wealth of happiness and relaxation. Wordsworth's objects used for imagery serve as symbols too. When in his first two lines he compares the character to a lone cloud, he physically and emotionally describes the character (Cloud=lightheartedness, floating, thought bubbles). Similarly, the daffodil's physical attributes help in expression: the golden yellow color represents the feeling of happiness or wealth, the cup-shaped petal protruding from the center of the flower may represent coming out from the worldly matters or overflowing good feeling for nature.

Structure of poem: Traditional verse--
- Sestet (with rhyme scheme: ABABCC)
- Lyrical
- Stanzas of equal length (each 8 syllables)
- Meter exists (iambic tetrameter)

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"Fluttering and dancing in the breeze," (6)
"Tossing their heads in sprightly dance," (12)
Personification
"I wandered lonely as a cloud," (1)
"Continuous as the stars that shine," (7)
Simile
Imagery and (perhaps) Symbolism pervade throughout the poem

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: Wordsworth was an English Romanticist who lived during Romanticism--an artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century and characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions. Biographers say that William Wordsworth had a great appreciation and love for nature ever since he was inspired at Hawkshead. As stated by Encarta Encyclopedia, "Much of Wordsworth's finest work I permeated by a sense of the human relationship to external nature that is religious in its scope and intensity. To Wordsworth, God was everywhere manifest in the harmony of nature, and he felt deeply the kinship between nature and the soul of humankind."

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;"

© Smelli Notes 2001