I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

20130215-202624.jpg

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 dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is the speaker (presumably Wordsworth) talking about the beauty and innocence of nature, and about how good it is for the soul (even in remembrance). Wordsworth was considered to be one of the fathers of Romantic poetry, and he proves his prowess with this poem. Wordsworth speaks of himself almost like he is floating above or apart from the world. He is an inanimate object; an observer, and nature is almost like a person. Vales and Hills and Daffodils are set apart with capitalization as if they were a proper noun – a person’s name. The Daffodils specifically are like people in that they are a crowd and they dance. Daffodils tend to symbolize new beginnings, which makes me think that Wordsworth sees nature as the cure for what ails society. If allowed, nature can bring about a re-birth for a lost generation (the audience I see for this poem). He speaks of how even reflecting on nature (the Daffodils) makes his heart soar. In fact, the whole last stanza leads me to believe that Wordsworth has only discovered it’s value in retrospect.

The poem was written in iambic tetrameter, which lends an almost march-like quality to it. Because of this, the lyrical nature of the words almost seem in contrast to the flow. I wonder if Wordsworth did this in order to further show contrast between the beauty of nature and the military mechanics of the industrial revolution? His choice of the word host in the first stanza seems to corroborate this, as host can refer to a military group or formation. The pattern of the end rhymes also add interest to the poem with their ABABCC structure. I believe that the last two lines of each stanza are meant to tie the message together in a less militaristic style. If read together, they simply say:

Along the Lake, beneath the trees, (5)
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze (6)
I gaz’d–and gaz’d–but little thought (11)
What wealth the shew to me had brought: (12)
And then my heart with pleasure fills, (17)
And dances with the Daffodils. (18)

It sounds less like a march, and more like the lyrics to a song.

As with any literature, poems leave the burden of interpretation to the reader. There is no one answer that satisfies everyone. The Romantic Poets were speaking to a generation using words they could understand. They took these simple words and wrote poems that inspired societal change. Like his contemporaries; John Keats and Lord Byron, Wordsworth displayed a respect for nature and a longing for a simpler time. Did you find this to be the strongest connection between the three poets as well?

12 thoughts on “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

  1. The interpretation of the Daffodils as nature’s cure for society, and the re-birth for a lost generation is sublime! Daffodils also have meaning of faith, truth, and forgiveness – which makes me wonder if Wordsworth’s intention is to not only express his joy through honesty, but to make his “lost generation” ask for forgiveness to right whatever wrongs he believes they were doing? It’s almost like the Daffodils are their salvation.

  2. Yes! I agree with Vone that your interpretation of the Daffodils was great! I thought that the way he wrote this poem was almost from a god like perspective, looking down upon the people of the world. He talks about the flowers so endearingly, as if they’re his children. I was just talking to my husband today about how our society seems to be getting further and further away from how we are naturally, and thats what this poem reminds me of too. I think he’s dreaming of us returning to nature and away from the man made things that cloud our judgment.

  3. I have had a hard time forcing myself to sit in front of a screen for hours this week, so I am right there with you. Reading a poem about nature and not being allowed to participate fully killed me. I agree fully with your last sentence. Wordsworth seems to be trying to show how cities and man-made things are cluttering our minds and perhaps our souls. They definitely offer a lot of distraction if nothing else.

  4. I really love how you tie the last lines of all the stanzas together! This was like discovering a poem within a poem, and I think it gave a greater depth to the work as a whole. The idea that the host of daffodils might be a militaristic image is a fascinating one, and upon rereading it I can see that interpretation solidified. Wonderful analysis!

  5. I love how you connect both beauty and nature being therapeutic for the soul. I too interpreted this poem as a reference for the joy which nature emits. This poem allowed me to visualize “dancing Daffodills” and “sparkling waves in glee”. Nature has a pure connection to joy which we should allow ourselves to enjoy. After all Daffodills can hardly be described as pensive or vacant, they are too full of life and beauty.

  6. I love how carefully you’ve situated this poem within the Romantic movement, Megan. I agree, and I also think that there’s an individualistic spirit that imbues and ties together these works.

    • I hadn’t considered that fact, but I think that is definitely true. I think that each of them artistically introduces such lofty, philosophical ideas that were novel for the time in which they were written. Keats focuses on mythology and magic, Lord Byron on romance, and Wordsworth on connection to nature.

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I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

20130215-202624.jpg

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 dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is the speaker (presumably Wordsworth) talking about the beauty and innocence of nature, and about how good it is for the soul (even in remembrance). Wordsworth was considered to be one of the fathers of Romantic poetry, and he proves his prowess with this poem. Wordsworth speaks of himself almost like he is floating above or apart from the world. He is an inanimate object; an observer, and nature is almost like a person. Vales and Hills and Daffodils are set apart with capitalization as if they were a proper noun – a person’s name. The Daffodils specifically are like people in that they are a crowd and they dance. Daffodils tend to symbolize new beginnings, which makes me think that Wordsworth sees nature as the cure for what ails society. If allowed, nature can bring about a re-birth for a lost generation (the audience I see for this poem). He speaks of how even reflecting on nature (the Daffodils) makes his heart soar. In fact, the whole last stanza leads me to believe that Wordsworth has only discovered it’s value in retrospect.

The poem was written in iambic tetrameter, which lends an almost march-like quality to it. Because of this, the lyrical nature of the words almost seem in contrast to the flow. I wonder if Wordsworth did this in order to further show contrast between the beauty of nature and the military mechanics of the industrial revolution? His choice of the word host in the first stanza seems to corroborate this, as host can refer to a military group or formation. The pattern of the end rhymes also add interest to the poem with their ABABCC structure. I believe that the last two lines of each stanza are meant to tie the message together in a less militaristic style. If read together, they simply say:

Along the Lake, beneath the trees, (5)
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze (6)
I gaz’d–and gaz’d–but little thought (11)
What wealth the shew to me had brought: (12)
And then my heart with pleasure fills, (17)
And dances with the Daffodils. (18)

It sounds less like a march, and more like the lyrics to a song.

As with any literature, poems leave the burden of interpretation to the reader. There is no one answer that satisfies everyone. The Romantic Poets were speaking to a generation using words they could understand. They took these simple words and wrote poems that inspired societal change. Like his contemporaries; John Keats and Lord Byron, Wordsworth displayed a respect for nature and a longing for a simpler time. Did you find this to be the strongest connection between the three poets as well?

12 thoughts on “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

  1. The interpretation of the Daffodils as nature’s cure for society, and the re-birth for a lost generation is sublime! Daffodils also have meaning of faith, truth, and forgiveness – which makes me wonder if Wordsworth’s intention is to not only express his joy through honesty, but to make his “lost generation” ask for forgiveness to right whatever wrongs he believes they were doing? It’s almost like the Daffodils are their salvation.

  2. Yes! I agree with Vone that your interpretation of the Daffodils was great! I thought that the way he wrote this poem was almost from a god like perspective, looking down upon the people of the world. He talks about the flowers so endearingly, as if they’re his children. I was just talking to my husband today about how our society seems to be getting further and further away from how we are naturally, and thats what this poem reminds me of too. I think he’s dreaming of us returning to nature and away from the man made things that cloud our judgment.

  3. I have had a hard time forcing myself to sit in front of a screen for hours this week, so I am right there with you. Reading a poem about nature and not being allowed to participate fully killed me. I agree fully with your last sentence. Wordsworth seems to be trying to show how cities and man-made things are cluttering our minds and perhaps our souls. They definitely offer a lot of distraction if nothing else.

  4. I really love how you tie the last lines of all the stanzas together! This was like discovering a poem within a poem, and I think it gave a greater depth to the work as a whole. The idea that the host of daffodils might be a militaristic image is a fascinating one, and upon rereading it I can see that interpretation solidified. Wonderful analysis!

  5. I love how you connect both beauty and nature being therapeutic for the soul. I too interpreted this poem as a reference for the joy which nature emits. This poem allowed me to visualize “dancing Daffodills” and “sparkling waves in glee”. Nature has a pure connection to joy which we should allow ourselves to enjoy. After all Daffodills can hardly be described as pensive or vacant, they are too full of life and beauty.

  6. I love how carefully you’ve situated this poem within the Romantic movement, Megan. I agree, and I also think that there’s an individualistic spirit that imbues and ties together these works.

    • I hadn’t considered that fact, but I think that is definitely true. I think that each of them artistically introduces such lofty, philosophical ideas that were novel for the time in which they were written. Keats focuses on mythology and magic, Lord Byron on romance, and Wordsworth on connection to nature.

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