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Analysis of Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”

 Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Wordsworth’s I wandered Lonely as a Cloud is a descriptive poem in which the author expresses the happiness he gets after enjoying the beauty of a great number of daffodils.  He begins the poem by telling his loneliness. This solitude of his, however, is gradually lessened as he keeps on gazing the nice feature and movement of the daffodils. After describing how the blowing wind makes the flowers move, dance, and stretch continuously in an endless line along the bay, the poet states that whenever he feels sad, he will try to recollect the beauty of the daffodils in his mind. By doing this he will directly finds ‘the bliss of solitude’ which enables him to get happiness.

The subject matter of this poem is the beauty of the daffodils seen by the poet, because nearly all of the lines are dominated by the descriptions, which emphasize those flowers’ beauty. It is true that the poet, sometimes, talks about other things, like stars on the Milky Way and waves of the lake beside the flowers, but these things are merely meant to be a comparison to emphasize the impression of the beauty of the daffodils. The poet states that the beauty of the dance of the daffodils far surpasses the dance of the lake: “The waves beside them dance; but they outdid the sparkling waves in glee” (ll. 13-14).

Despite the fact that the beauty of the daffodils dominates the poem, the poets do not present it for its own sake. He actually relates that beauty to his life. In the first lines he, by using a simile in which he compares himself to a floating cloud, precisely describes how deep his loneliness is. Then, in the final lines, he resolutes that the beauty of the daffodils facilitates him a very precious quite time to retrospect his life. After the retrospection he finally manages to expel his sadness out. We can easily understand this phenomenon by realizing that solitude can be used as a good condition to make one’s life retrospection to understand his true self. (Self-understanding is one of the greatest wealth and joy. The world’s history has shown that monks and other holy men always use solitude to get more understanding about life). Considering these facts, we can say that the underlying idea or theme of this poem is that the beauty of the nature is an effective facility for self-retrospection and a suitable remedy for the poet’s sadness.

The use of the beauty of the nature as the theme of a work is actually typical of Wordsworth. Nearly in all of his poems he worships the nature. What attracts him in the nature is not only its beauty but also the existence of its restorative power caused by his belief that the nature is the dwelling of the Supreme Being.  That is why I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud does not merely describe the beauty of the daffodils. It also expresses that the presence of God in the nature’s beauty makes it one of the best answer for one of the most inherent problems in human life: spiritual vacancy:

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.
                                                  (ll. 19-24).

Wordsworth’s use of the beauty of the nature in this poem can be considered as his opposition towards the classicists who glorify the use of rational thinking rather than imaginative thinking to find the answers for human life’s problems.  Wordsworth believes that sometimes-imaginative thinking is more useful.  That is why, in this poem, he writes: “I gazed and gazed – but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought” (ll. 17-18).  Through these lines Wordsworth probably means to emphasize the use of imagination, emotion, and feeling (elements of imaginative thinking) in order to find the solutions for people’s life.

In this poem, Wordsworth uses images very extensively in order to let the reader involve in the experiences he is communicating. For instance, how he is wandering and floating lonely as a cloud “o’er vales and hills” is important they enable the reader to visualize the surroundings being described in the poem. Some other effective images are the “golden daffodils” that were “fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” Anyone who has observed a breezy day, and the way that plants, flowers, and water appear and move on such a day, could easily see through Wordsworth’s eyes this scene. We see the shock of yellow (he says golden) and the mass of flowers, swaying and bending in the breeze. Wordsworth’s use imagery in this poem really enables the reader to share the experiences being communicated.

In addition to imagery, Wordsworth uses seven figures of speech to help the readers share the experiences being communicated. The figures of speech are made up of   three personifications:  “golden daffodils…. dancing in the breeze” (ll. 4-7), “tossing their heads” (l. 12), and “the waves … danced” (l. 13); two hyperbole: “I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills (ll. 1-2) And “…  in a never ending lines” (l. 9); and two similes: “I …  as a cloud”  (l .1) and ” … as the stars” (l. 7). The functions of all these figures of speech can be explained as follows. Firstly, the three personifications function to give the impression of movements, so that the poem will look livelier. Secondly, the single onomatopoeia functions to give beautiful sound to the poem.  Thirdly, the two hyperbole and the two similes are meant parallel to increase the effect of loneliness of the poet (the first hyperbole and the first simile), so that the reader will agree with the poet about the importance of the beauty of the daffodils in overcoming his loneliness, and to increase the impression of the beauty of the daffodils by comparing it to the stars’ beauty (the second hyperbole and the second simile).

This poem really shows Wordsworth’ exceptional talent and imagination as a poet. The subjects he uses in the poem are simple. The words he uses are daily and common. However, the poem is absolutely beautiful and meaningful.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

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.

William Wordsworth

From: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud/

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