"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth


Born in England in 1770, William Wordsworth figured prominently in the development of Romantic sensibilities in his home country. In that spirit, much of his work draws inspiration from nature or highly personal yet fleeting moments in his life. This work came as a result of a excursion into the forest with his sister, Dorothy, in April of 1802. Though initially received poorly, it has come to be a hallmark of English Romantic poetry. 

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.

Reflection Questions

  1. What elements does Wordsworth employ to capture his experience in poetry? 
  2. In what way does the poem describe the power the memory has? 
  3. How does the experience the speaker describes relate to the memory he or she recalls? 

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