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Daffodils

In: English and Literature

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DAFFODILS
STUDENT COPY

2012

Daffodils
By William Wordsworth

Note: This is reference and a training purpose copy only, any copy made or selling this work to public will be liable for penalty and subjected copyright policy.

INDEX
1) Poem- Daffodils 2) Questions and Answers 3) Summary 4) Explanation

Poem
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 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 waves beside them danced; but they Out-did 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.

Questions and Answers
1) What was the poet doing when he saw the daffodils? Answer: The poet was walking around through the hills and valleys, but he felt all lonely and mopey. Suddenly, as he passed the lake, he noticed a big group of yellow daffodils waving in the breeze.

2) What does the poet compare himself with? “I wandered lonely as a Cloud That floats on high o'er vales and Hills” Answer: From the above lines we could understand that the poet was comparing himself with clouds when he was walking around lonely.

3) Where were the daffodils growing? “Beside the Lake, beneath the trees” Answer: The above line explains that the daffodils were growing beside the lake and underneath some trees.

4) What were the daffodils doing in the breeze? “Fluttering and dancing in the breeze” Answer: The above line explains that the daffodils where taking their flight (Flutter) in breeze, in a breezy day we have seen that flowers flutter and dance on their stems, the poet uses the same majesticsounding like Fluttering and Dancing.

5) How does the poet compare daffodils with stars? “Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way” Answer: This emphasizes the point that there are a whole lot of daffodils. More daffodils than he had probably ever seen before. After all, these are flowers that usually grow in scattered groups in the wild or in people’s well-tended gardens The flowers stretch "continuously," without a break, like the stars in the Milky Way galaxy, each one gleaming like a star. The comparison to stars provides new evidence that the speaker is trying to make us think of angels or other heavenly beings. 6) How does the poet compare the daffodils with waves? “The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee” Answer: Thee waves also dance in the breeze, but the daffodils seem happier than the waves. The waves sparkle, which creates yet another association with the stars. Everything seems to be gleaming and twinkling and shining and sparkling.

7) How did the poet feel company of daffodils? “For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood”

Answer: Now the poet explains why the daffodils were such a great gift to him. He moves suddenly into the future, back from the lake and the windy day. He’s describing a habitual action, something he does often. First, he sets the scene: he often sits on his couch, kind of feeling blah about life, with no great thoughts and sights. Sometimes his mind is empty and "vacant," like a bored teenager sitting on the sofa after school and trying to decide what to do. At other times he feels "pensive," which means he thinks kindof-sad thoughts. You can’t be both "vacant" and "pensive" because one means "not thinking," and the other means "thinking while feeling blue." But he groups the two experiences together because both are vaguely unpleasant and dissatisfying. 8) What wealth does the poet talk about? “I gazed--and gazed--but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought” Answer: The poet speaks about joy and happiness, which he had gained by staying connected with nature and its picture of flowers, waves and stars. The poet concludes his script by calling happiness and joy as wealth. The word "wealth" expresses a more permanent kind of happiness. It also carries a hint of money that does not quite fit with the supernatural language that has come before.

9) The poet was lonely and sad. Explain in brief. “A Poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company” Answer: Despite his earlier loneliness, the poet now can’t help but feel happy, or "gay," with such a beautiful vision to look at. As he adds, with such joyful and carefree ("jocund") company. The flowers and waves feel like companions to him.

Summary
The speaker was walking around through the hills and valleys, but he felt all lonely. Suddenly, as he passed a lake, he noticed a big group of yellow daffodils waving in the breeze. This wasn't just some scattered patch of daffodils. We’re talking thousands and thousands around this particular bay. And all these flowers were dancing. Yes, the daffodils danced, and so did the waves of the lake. But the daffodils danced better. The speaker’s loneliness was replaced by joy, but he didn't even realize what a gift he has received until later. Now, whenever he’s feeling kind of blah, he just thinks of the daffodils, and his heart is happily dancing.

Explanation
I wandered lonely as a Cloud That floats on high o'er vales and Hills, The speaker describes how he walked around and felt as lonely as a cloud. He doesn’t say, "Walked around," but uses the much more descriptive word "wandered." "Wandered" means roaming around without a purpose, like when you explore something. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in its metaphorical use, "wandered" can mean feeling purposeless and directionless in general. As in, you have questions like, "What’s the meaning of my life?" The first concept that we want to take a look at is that the cloud is "lonely." Asking questions about what this means will help us get into the poem. Are clouds lonely? Well, maybe the ones that float about valleys ("vales") and hills are lonely. It's more likely, the speaker is projecting his own loneliness on the clouds. But that still doesn’t explain the strange image, because clouds usually travel in groups. Maybe a cloud is lonely because it is so far above the rest of the world. Its thoughts are just so "lofty," and maybe the speaker’s thoughts are, too. Also, the cloud could be lonely because it floats over a natural landscape with no people in it. Maybe the speaker has thought of hills and valleys because he happens to be "wandering" through such a landscape.

Lines 3-4 When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden Daffodils;

Suddenly ("all at once"), the speaker sees a group of daffodil flowers. We tend to think of daffodils as "yellow," but he uses the more majestic-sounding "golden." He calls them a "crowd," so they must be packed tightly together. Then he elaborates on "crowd" by adding the noun "host." A host is just a big group. Yes, "host" and "crowd" means the same., but that’s where the connotations come in, those vague associations that attach to certain words. A "crowd" is associated with groups of people, while "host" is associated with angels, because people often refer to a "host of angels." Coupled with the description of their angelic "golden" color, we seem to be dealing with some very special daffodils. Lines 5-6 Beside the Lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

He sees the daffodils beside a lake and underneath some trees. It’s a breezy day, and the flowers "flutter" and "dance" on their stems. Maybe now is a good time to step outside the poem for just a second to note that Wordsworth lived in a part of England known as the Lake District, which is filled with lots of hills, valleys and,

of course, lakes. We can assume he’s walking in a fairly remote and wild part of the countryside. Now, back to the poem. "Fluttering" suggests flight, which could bring us back to the angels or even birds or butterflies. "Dancing" is something that usually only humans do. The daffodils are given the qualities of humans and also of some kind of otherworldly creatures, perhaps.

Lines 7-8 Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way,

This emphasizes the point that there are a whole lot of daffodils. More daffodils than he has probably ever seen before. After all, these are flowers that usually grow in scattered groups in the wild or in people’s well-tended gardens. The flowers stretch "continuously," without a break, like the stars in the Milky Way galaxy, each one gleaming like a star. The comparison to stars provides new evidence that the speaker is trying to make us think of angels or other heavenly beings. Lines 9-10 They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay:

Like the Milky Way galaxy, the flowers are roughly concentrated in a line that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see ("never-ending"). They flowers line the shore ("margin") of a bay of the lake, which must be a relatively large lake. If you’ve ever seen the Milky Way, you know that the galaxy appears to be a band that has more stars and a brighter appearance than the night sky around it. It’s not a perfectly clear line, but more like a fuzzy approximation of a line. We imagine the same effect with the flowers. It’s not as if there are no flowers outside the shore of the lake, but most are concentrated on the shore. Lines 11-12 Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The speaker takes in "ten thousand" dancing flowers at once. That’s a lot of daffodils. He’s fast at counting if he knows the number after only a quick glance. But, of course, the speaker is not actually counting, but just guessing. The flowers "toss their hands" while dancing to the wind. By "heads" we think he means the part of the flower with the petals, the weight of which causes the rest of the flower to bob. "Sprightly" means happily or merrily. The word derives from "sprite," which refers to the playful little spirits that people once thought inhabited nature. "Sprites" are supernatural beings, almost like fairies.

Lines 13-14 The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

The waves also dance in the breeze, but the daffodils seem happier than the waves. . The waves "sparkle," which creates yet another association with the stars. Everything seems to be gleaming and twinkling and shining and sparkling. Lines 15-16 A Poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: Despite his earlier loneliness, the speaker now can’t help but feel happy, or "gay," with such a beautiful vision to look at.

Lines 17-18 I gazed--and gazed--but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:

The repetition of "gaze" tells us that he kept looking at the flowers for a long time. It's as if the speaker enjoys looking at these daffodils at the time, but doesn’t realize exactly how great of a gift he has just received with this vision. Apparently, the speaker doesn't think that he fully appreciated the vision at the time. This is a bit odd, because he seems to be really enjoying those daffodils. The word "wealth" expresses a more permanent kind of happiness. It also carries a hint of money that does not quite fit with the supernatural language that has come before. Lines 19-20 For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood,

Now the speaker explains why the daffodils were such a great gift to him. He moves suddenly into the future, back from the lake and the windy day. He’s describing a habitual action, something he does often. First, he sets the scene: he often sits on his couch, kind of feeling blah about life, with no great thoughts and sights. Sometimes his mind is empty and "vacant," like a bored teenager sitting on the sofa after school and trying to decide what to do. At other times he feels "pensive," which means he thinks kind-of-sad thoughts. You can’t be both "vacant" and "pensive" because one means "not thinking," and the other means "thinking while feeling blue." But he groups the two experiences together because both are vaguely unpleasant and dissatisfying. Lines 21-22 They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude;

So, often when our speaker gets in these downer moods, the image of the daffodils "flashes" through his mind. The "inward eye" expresses what Wordsworth felt to be a deeper, truer spiritual vision. A person cannot share his or her own spiritual vision completely with others, and so it is a form of "solitude." But its truth and beauty make it "blissful." Why does the speaker think of daffodils in exactly these moments? Maybe it's because the contrast between their joy and his unhappiness is so striking. Nonetheless, the vision is spontaneous, like a crack of lightning. Lines 23-24 And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the Daffodils

When the memory of the flowers and the lake flashes into his head, he feels happy again. It’s almost like the same experience he had while "wandering" through nature at the beginning of the poem, when the real daffodils pushed the loneliness out of his head. His heart is set to dancing, just like the flowers. He dances along "with" them – they are his cheerful companions once again.

How to Read a Poem
There’s really only one reason that poetry has gotten a reputation for being so darned “difficult”: it demands your full attention and won’t settle for less. Unlike a novel, where you can drift in and out and still follow the plot, poems are generally shorter and more intense, with less of a conventional story to follow. If you don’t make room for the experience, you probably won’t have one.

But the rewards can be high. To make an analogy with rock and roll, it’s the difference between a two and a half minute pop song with a hook that you get sick of after the third listen, and a slow-building tour de force that sounds fresh and different every time you hear it. Once you’ve gotten a taste of the really rich stuff, you just want to listen to it over and over again and figure out: how’d they do that? Aside from its demands on your attention, there’s nothing too tricky about reading a poem. Like anything, it’s a matter of practice. But in case you haven’t read much (or any) poetry before, we’ve put together a short list of tips that will make it a whole lot more enjoyable.

• Follow Your Ears. It’s okay to ask, “What does it mean?” when reading a poem. But it’s even better to ask, “How does it sound?” If all else fails, treat it like a song. Even if you can’t understand a single thing about a poem’s “subject” or “theme,” you can always say something – anything – about the sound of the words. Does the poem move fast or slow? Does it sound awkward in sections or does it have an even flow? Do certain words stick out more than others? Trust your inner ear: if the poem sounds strange, it doesn’t mean you’re reading it wrong. In fact, you probably just discovered one of the poem’s secret tricks!

•Read It Aloud. OK, we’re not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops. If you’re embarrassed and want to lock yourself in the attic and read the poem in the faintest whisper possible, go ahead. Do whatever it takes, because reading even part of poem aloud can totally change your perspective on how it works. •Become an Archaeologist. When you’ve drunk in the poem enough times, experiencing the sound and images found there, it is sometimes fun to switch gears and to become an archaeologist (you know -- someone who digs up the past and uncovers layers of history). Treat the poem like a room you have just entered. Perhaps it’s a strange room that you’ve never seen before, filled with objects or people that you don’t really recognize. Maybe you feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Assume your role as an archaeologist and take some measurements. What’s the weather like? Are there people there? What kind of objects do you find? Are there more verbs than adjectives? Do you detect a rhythm? Can you hear music? Is there furniture? Are there portraits of past poets on the walls? Are there traces of other poems or historical references to be found? •Don’t Skim. Unlike the newspaper or a textbook, the point of poetry isn’t to cram information into your brain. We can’t repeat it enough: poetry is an experience. If you don’t have the patience to get through a long poem, no worries, just start with a really short poem. Understanding poetry is like getting a suntan: you have to let it sink in. •Memorize! “Memorize” is such a scary word, isn’t it? It reminds us of multiplication tables. Maybe we should have said: “Tuck the poem into your memory-space.” Or maybe not. At any rate, don’t tax yourself: if you memorize one or two lines of a poem, or even just a single coolsounding phrase, it will start to work on you in ways you didn’t know possible. •Be Patient. You can’t really understand a poem that you’ve only read once. You just can’t. So if you don’t get it, set the poem aside and come back to it later. And by “later” we mean days, months, or even years. Don’t rush it. It’s a much bigger accomplishment to actually enjoy a poem than it is to be able to explain every line of it. Treat the first reading as an investment –

your effort might not pay off until well into the future, but when it does; it will totally be worth it. •Read in Places. Just like music, the experience of poetry changes depending on your mood and the environment. Read in as many different places as possible: at the beach, on a mountain, in the subway. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery for a poem to really come alive. •Think Like a Poet. Here’s a fun exercise. Go through the poem one line at a time, covering up the next line with your hand so you can’t see it. Put yourself in the poet’s shoes: If I had to write a line to come after this line, what would I put? If you start to think like this, you’ll be able to appreciate all the different choices that go into making a poem. It can also be pretty humbling – at least we think so. • “Look Who Is Talking.” Ask the most basic questions possible of the poem. Two of the most important are: “Who’s talking?” and “Who are they talking to?” If it’s a Shakespeare sonnet, don’t just assume that the speaker is Shakespeare. The speaker of every poem is kind of fictional creation, and so is the audience. Ask yourself: what would it be like to meet this person? What would they look like? What’s their “deal,” anyway? •And, most importantly, never be intimidated. Regardless of what your experience with poetry in the classroom has been, no poet wants to make his or her audience feel stupid. It’s just not good business, if you know what I mean. Sure, there might be tricky parts, but it’s not like you’re trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. Poetry is about freedom and exposing yourself to new things. In fact, if you find yourself stuck in a poem, just remember that the poet, 9 times out of 10, was a bit of a rebel and was trying to make his friends look at life in a completely different way.

Thank you

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