Q&A: What Do You Suspect the Poem I Wandered as Lonley as a Cloud Is About?

Question by Kiki: What do you suspect the poem I wandered as lonley as a cloud is about?
I am just wondering, would anyone happen to know which poetry book this is from?

Here is the poem:

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth
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 leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but 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.

Best answer:

Answer by Danny Rose
Wordsworth’s heart dances with the daffodils. Nature is within the man, its laws an extension of his own self.

That his heart dances with the daffodils is to say that the beauty he thinks at first to be outward is inwardly contained. The daffodils enter his own soul, his inward eye, as the mere thought of beauty is beauty itself.

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5 Responses to “Q&A: What Do You Suspect the Poem I Wandered as Lonley as a Cloud Is About?”

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  1. Tetro says:

    He saw some flowers.

  2. Davis Miller says:

    fantastic poem.

  3. H S says:

    It was published in 1807 in ‘Poems in Two Volumes’.

    It encapsulates one of the key ideas of Romantic poetry (Wordsworth and Coleridge were pioneers of Romanticism) namely that it is ’emotion recollected in tranquillity’ – there is the initial, emotional moment of seeing the daffodils and the waves, and there is the final stanza telling us that, although he gazed at the initial scene for a while, the real value of the experience of happiness it gave him was found in the many times afterwards when, alone, he remembered them and re-experienced the pleasure of them.

    Personally I feel it fails to achieve one of the other things that Wordsworth and Coleridge set out to do, which was to write a poetray based more on ordinary speech and less on the self-conciously artistic diction of the previous century. Of course it’s hard to judge how the language of the poem would have struck readers in 1807, but to me it seems antique, even by nineteenth century stadards, in both vocabulary and syntax. It’s grossly over-decorated and padded out – almost the entire second stanza could go. I know it’s a much-loved poem, at least in Britain, but does very little for me.

  4. synopsis says:

    The poem follows the program of The Lyrical Ballads (1798), a collection of poems from Wordsworth and Coleridge which began the English Romantic revolution (though it was composed a few years later, and added only to subsequent editions).

    In his “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads” (which you should read one day, as should everyone who is interested in English poetry) Wordsworth says that one of the important things that poetry does is to preserve happy memories so that we can use them again when we need them most (like pickling cherries in alcohol, so you can eat them in the winter months).

    Wordsworth calls this ‘powerful emotion recollected in tranquility’.

    That is exactly what this poem does. It even says that this is what it is doing:

    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.

  5. jo says:

    The poem is included in numerous anthologies.

    The poet describes how he has learned that those who find joy in beauty are not lonely even when alone, dozing on the sofa.