An Analysis of Wordsworth?s Most Famous Poem And A Brief Bio of the Author
?I wandered lonely as a cloudThat floats on high o?er vales and hills,When all at once I saw a crowd,A host, of golden daffodils;?
William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in Northwest England.
He published his first poem in 1787.
In 1795 he struck up a friendship with poet Samuel Taylor Coledridge, and in 1798, they co-published Lyrical Ballads, which is now recognized as the volume of poetry that launched the Romantic Age of English literature.
Most of the poems in Lyrical Ballads are Wordsworth?s, though one of Coleridge?s contributions, ?The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,? is arguably the most influential poem in the volume.
Lyrical Ballads started out with a modest reception, but its reputation grew in time, and by the 1820s it was a widely known and respected work, and Wordsworth was able to publish for pay regularly for the rest of his life.
Wordsworth wrote ?I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud? some time between 1804 and 1807. He and his sister were walking in the English countryside and came across a stunning belt of daffodils. Wordsworth wrote this poem to capture the feeling that came over him in that moment.
The poem was first published in 1807 in the collection ?Poems in Two Volumes,? and a revised version was published in 1815.
The poem is simple and orderly, harkening to classical forms, and written in iambic tetrameter (each line has four iambs, read it aloud and count the rhythmic patterns in each line: ?bah-Dah bah-Dah bah-Dah bah-Dah)
?I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud? made no immediate impact upon publication, but over the decades it has become Wordsworth?s most famous poem. The rhythm and language so elegantly capture the sense of peace and solitude one gets in nature. The poem has an expansive, enormous canvas, first with Wordsworth giving sense of imagery as viewed from above (as if from the viewpoint of a cloud), and then with him cleverly using the galaxy as a metaphor for the scope of a wild flower field.
The poem?s final stanza is, in many ways, the most interesting to me. In that stanza the beautiful imagery is written to memory, and the poem itself becomes a way to hold onto a profound experience.
Here is ?I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud? by William Wordsworth.
I wandered lonely as a cloudThat 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 shineAnd twinkle on the milky way,They stretched in never-ending lineAlong the margin of a bay:Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but theyOut-did the sparkling waves in glee:A poet could not but be gay,In such a jocund company:I gazed ? and gazed ? but little thoughtWhat wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lieIn vacant or in pensive mood,They flash upon that inward eyeWhich is the bliss of solitude;And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodils.
Spencer Baum is the author of seven novels. He is releasing the audiobook of his newest novel as a free podcast.