An Analysis of William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Clo
English and Literature
Submitted By SuperJesus0123
Take a Walk in my Shoes:
An Analysis of William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
“Edna St. Vincent Millay once wrote, "And all the loveliest things there be come simply, so it seems to me."”(A)The quote couples well with the simple pleasures found in William Wordsworth’s poem titled “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. On “April 15, 1802, Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, were walking near a lake at Grasmere, Cumbria County, England”(B). While walking the coastline, Wordsworth stumbles upon a sea of daffodils swaying in the wind. In his poem Wordsworth sits on his couch thinking back to this experience, appreciating how lovely it was. Through careful choice of metaphors, similes, personification, and diction, William Wordsworth guides the reader through his experience walking with the daffodils.
Wordsworth puts to use poetic devices to give the reader a clear image of what he was seeing that day by the water. Not only does he want the reader to feel his emotions, but to stand in his shoes and experience the moment with him. In the first stanza, we are given a wealth of imagery to set the scene. The author wanders through “vales and hills, When all at once [he] saw a crowd/A host, of golden daffodils.” Here the author uses alliteration to demonstrate to the reader that the daffodils come to view as a group as if he is summiting a hill and they wait on the other side, hiding from behind the hill. The daffodils are situated “Beside the lake, [and] beneath the trees.” Wordsworth again uses alliteration to give the reader a more precise idea of what it is he is looking at. He writes “beside the lake” on the left of “beneath the trees” to signify that the daffodils are between the lake and the trees, with the lake on their left and the trees on their right. He gives an even more elaborate image, by explaining that the daffodils are “Continuous as the stars that shine/And twinkle on the milky way.” He compares the vastness of the galaxy to that of this field of flowers. The flowers appear to be never ending much like the stars in the night sky. He only notices “Ten thousand” at first glance, implying that there are many more than can be contained in his field of vision. To complete the scene, Wordsworth sets the atmosphere of this lakeside paradise. The author gives the waves of the lake and the flowers human like qualities to set a lively mood. “The waves beside [the flowers] danced, but [the flowers]/Out-did the sparkling waves in glee.” Here the waves and the flowers are dancing, an ability unique to people. The flowers “[out-[doing]” the waves implies that there is some kind of competition happening between the two of them, which is another personification because water and flowers are incapable of competing. The competition appears to be in good spirit because the flowers are filled with “glee” after they had won, and the waves continue “sparkling” after the game is lost. The dance competition between the waves and the flowers gives the lakeside scene a playful atmosphere. The lively game also provides more imagery in the poem as it gives the reader the image of the waves and daffodils dancing the best they can to “out-do” one another. The coastline is brought to life by Wordsworth’s use of poetic devices, having the reader feel as though they are standing right there with him.
Wordsworth uses diction, metaphors, and similes to have the reader experience the emotions he feels walking along the coastline. The poem opens saying “I wandered lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high”. The simile is used to put the reader into the author’s head space. A cloud is light and free-flowing, and this cloud in particular “floats on high.” The author has the reader experience his tranquil almost daydreamy state. There is nothing on Wordsworth’s mind, his head is drifting about much like the wandering cloud he describes himself to be. In this context “lonely” does not carry a negative connotation, blissful solitude would be a better way of describing it. Wordsworth is experiencing the type of lonely that is welcomed, the type of lonely that comes with a daydreaming. There is peace in this loneliness. Wordsworth soon realizes that he is not alone on the coast when he spots “A host, of golden daffodils.” Wordsworth chooses this metaphor to elicit that he is being welcomed into the daffodils’ home “Beside the lake, beneath the trees.” Wordsworth is a stranger to them, but he feels as though he has been welcomed with open arms. The flowers are playing host to him, inviting him into their paradise. Wordsworth feels as though he belongs there, he feels one with the daffodils. Wordsworth notes that the daffodils are “Continuous as the stars that shine/ And twinkle on the milky way.” He uses the simile to describe how awestruck he was by the beauty of the daffodils. Looking into the field leaves him as astonished and fascinated as looking up into the night sky. He is in a state of wonder, captivated by the beauty of the daffodils. Sitting alone on his couch Wordsworth thinks back to that day “And then [his] heart with pleasure fills, /And dances.” He personifies his heart, giving it the ability to dance to tell the reader just how amazing it felt looking at all of those flowers. Something as simple as the memory of yellow daffodils on the bay is enough to fill him with energy and enthusiasm, and his writing is an effort to have the reader feel the same way.
William Wordsworth wrote, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” to put what he was seeing and feeling that day by the water to words. His effective use of poetic devices puts the reader in his shoes, having them see and feel what did that day with him. His poem is a testament to his love of the little things, the simple pleasures, and is an effort to teach readers to find love for them as well.
A "Benefits of Purchase." Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. Web. 7 July 2015.
B Cummings, Micheal. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud: Analysis." I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud: Analysis. Web. 7 July 2015.