THE DAFFODILS BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth
A great lover of nature, William Wordsworth, had once wandered aimlessly just like a cloud floats in the sky. He had suddenly come across countless golden daffodils by the side of a lake. Those golden daffodils were fluttering and dancing in the air, appearing like stars twinkling in the sky. The made as if they were dancing in a frenzy.
The poet compares the golden daffodils with the stars that shine and twinkle in the sky. The poet feels the number of the daffodils as never-ending as the stars in the Milky Way.
The waves of the lake are also dancing but the dance of the daffodils surpassed the dance of the waves in happiness. The poet is wonderfully delighted in such a pleasant company. According to the poet, he could scarcely realize that he was collecting a treasure in his mind.
As time went on the poet found himself in the vacant or pensive mood but the beautiful sight of the golden daffodils began appearing in his mind and that recollection filled the poet’s heart with extraordinary delight.
In a nutshell, the poem exemplifies how William words worth, a pantheist, derive extraordinary bliss in the most ordinary things.
ANALYSIS OF THE DAFFODILS BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Have you spent some time thinking about this poem ? If not, go back and do so before you proceed on.
What were your initial thoughts while reading this poem? Is the poem already very familiar to you? If so, did you try to read it differently? Did you try to apply what you learned in the first lesson?
The first aspect of the poem that is clearly visible is its structure: it’s neatly divided into stanzas of six lines each. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter. The word ‘iambic’ comes from the term ‘iamb’. In poetry, an iamb consists of one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable. If you read the poem aloud, you’ll find that every other syllable is stressed while speaking.
I wandered lonely…………. in the breeze.
Did you notice the contrasts in this stanza? The poet is depicted as a single, lonely person. The daffodils aren’t just a ‘crowd’ but a ‘host’. Think about the connotative meaning of the word ‘host’. It has many connotations, but as a collective noun, it is used most often to refer to angels. This meaning recalls one of the most fundamentals concerns of most Romantic poets: to think of nature the way others think of religion. What the poet can derive from observations of the natural world is no less important than the lessons taught by religious doctrines. By comparing himself to a cloud, the poet is perhaps trying to participate in the natural order of things or perhaps trying to pretend that he is a cloud in order to avoid confronting whatever issues make him lonely.
Also interesting in this stanza is the difference between the actions of ‘fluttering’ and ‘dancing’. Usually, something flutters because something else causes it to flutter. However, dancing conveys a sense of agency: it’s an active action, whereas ‘fluttering’ is a more passive one.
Continuous as the stars……. in sprightly dance.
In this stanza, Wordsworth makes use of hyperbole or exaggeration by saying that he saw ‘ten thousand’ daffodils ‘at a glance’. The word ‘never-ending’ is also an exaggeration. Here, the poet is drawing attention to the fact that perception can differ from reality. The daffodils aren’t actually in a never-ending line, but there are so many of them that the line seems never-ending; so, in one sense, it is never-ending because the eye cannot see the end of it.
Note how the dancing from the previous stanza has now become a ‘sprightly dance’. It is even more vibrant now, and the addition of the description ‘tossing their heads’ really does make it seem as though the flowers have an active will of their own.
The waves beside……… to me had brought:
Are you beginning to notice how the poet ascribes human qualities to the natural world? In this stanza, it isn’t just the flowers but also the waves that are dancing. The intensity of emotions conveyed is also steadily increasing as the poem progresses. From being ‘sprightly’ in the previous stanza, the flowers are now full of ‘glee’. Note the implication that the glee is infectious: it appears as though the daffodils have passed it on to the waves, and to the poet himself.
The repetition of the word ‘gazed’ reinforces the idea that the speaker looked at the scene for a long time. Until this point in the poem, we are given the literal description of the scene that the poet is looking at. Just as he has no thoughts about the ‘wealth’ that the scene has given him, so his readers are only given descriptions without accompanying ideas. The use of the word ‘show’ suggests a rehearsed performance: it is almost as though the poet is suggesting that the daffodils are the protagonists in a theatrical tableau.
Also notice that this stanza ends with a colon, suggesting a continuation of thought. In grammatical terms, colons are often used before definitions and explanations. So we can expect the final stanza to exemplify the meaning of the previous section of the poem.
For oft, when on my couch …… dances with the daffodils.
‘For’ often conveys the meaning of ‘because’. The word seems to suggest that this stanza will present us with the explanation for why the poet says that watching the ‘show’ brought him ‘wealth’. Doesn’t the image of lying on a couch suggest the idea of being in a psychiatrist’s office? Wordsworth seems to be suggesting that recalling the scene with the daffodils is therapeutic to him. The ‘inward eye’ is that of memory, on which the scene has been imprinted in such a way that it flashes to life when the poet is in a ‘vacant’ or ‘pensive’ mood. Note again how the word ‘flash’ suggests an active action. The poet doesn’t say that he deliberately tries to remember the scene. The scene flashes into his mind, and it does so often (‘oft’), almost as though it has a will of its own that allows it to enter the poet’s mind whenever he is in a receptive mood.
Also, note the relationship between the time-related words ‘when’ and ‘then’. When something happens, then something else happens: this correlation indicates a cause and effect relationship. When the daffodils flash into the poet’s ‘inward eye’, then his heart fills with pleasure. The words ‘bliss’ and ‘pleasure’ continue the sense of ‘glee’ from the previous paragraph.
The peak of the poet’s ‘bliss’ here is that his heart ‘dances with the daffodils.’ It’s almost as though the scene is recreated, and this time the poet can actually participate in the ‘show’ rather than just be an observer. In this sense, the memory of the scene seems even more powerful than the poet’s encounter with the scene.
1. After reading the poem, can you guess what a daffodil is?
Ans. The daffodil is a flower that is yellow and therefore comparable to gold in its colour. They usually grow near lakes. On seeing the yellow daffodils the poet perhaps recollects some golden memories that he cherishes in the lonely time. He, therefore, calls them ‘golden daffodils’.
Q. Why does the poet compare the daffodils to stars?
Ans. The poet compares the daffodils to stars because the daffodils stretch in never-ending line like the stars in the galaxy. Moreover, like stars, the daffodils shine as they are golden and also twinkle like the stars as they flutter due to the breeze. This is a clear indication that daffodils are heavenly stars.
Q. Why has the poet described solitude as being blissful?
Ans. The poet described solitude as being blissful because when the poet is lonely and not doing anything the thought of golden daffodils that he has seen dancing and fluttering in the valley fills his mind with pleasure and he rejoices the moment.
Q. What does the inward eye mean? What is it that flashes upon his eye? Do you think the poet is affected by it in any way? Give reasons.
Ans. The inward eye means visual imagination that takes the poet to the world of past recollection. It is something that can not be shared with other people. The golden daffodils which he has seen in the valley flash upon his inward eye. The memory of dancing and fluttering daffodils fills his heart with pleasure.
It is like a spiritual vision that brings a feeling of joy. It is a blessing for the poet. That is why the poet calls the inward eye a ‘bliss of solitude’.
9. Where were the daffodils growing ?
Answer: The Daffodils were growing beside the lake under the trees.
Q. What are the objects the poet compares with the daffodils?
Answer: The poet compares the daffodils with the dancing waves and shining and twinkling stars.
Q. What is the effect of daffodils on the poet?
Answer: The daffodils fill the poet’s heart with pleasure and he feels happy with them.
Q. What is the bliss of solitude according to the poet ?
Answer: When the person is in solitude and there is nobody around him. He is all alone. He has the opportunity to think of nature. In the poem the poet says that when he is either busy thinking or not thinking about any thing he is reminded of the daffodils. He says that loneliness becomes lovely if he thinks about daffodils in his loneliness. When he remembers the daffodils he starts feeling happy, content and perfectly at peace with himself. This happens because of solitude.
Q. Why does the poet stop on seeing the daffodils ?
Answer: The poet stops on seeing the daffodils because never before in his life had he seen such beautiful golden daffodils and that too in such a very large number. He is completely attracted towards them.
Q. What is the theme of this poem ?
Answer: The healing and refreshing effect of Nature is the theme of this poem.
Q. What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?
Ans. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ababcc.
Reference To The Context
1. Continuous as the stars that………in sprightly dance.
Reference: These lines are taken from the poem “the Daffodils” written by William Wordsworth. The poet feels elated at the sight of the countless number of the daffodils that have grown by the side of the lake.
Context: In the lines under reference, the poet compares the golden daffodils with the stars that shine and twinkle in the sky.
a) What does “they” refer to?
A. ‘They’ refers to the golden daffodils.
b) Why have they been compared to the Milky Way?
A. They have been compared to the Milky Way because the poet feels the number of the daffodils as unending as the stars in the Milky Way.
c) Pick out an example personification from these lines. What is the picture created through this description?
A. The example of personification is as under:
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The picture created by this description is one of the happy dancers dancing and tossing their heads against each other in a very happy situation.
d) Find an example of a rhyming couplet from these lines.
A. The example of the rhyming couplet from these lines is as under.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
2. Ten thousand saw I at……..a jocund company!
a) What did the poet see at a glance? We’re they really ten thousand in number?
A. The poet saw a countless number of daffodils at a glance. No, they were not really ten thousand in number. It is the poet’s way of describing the innumerable and unending sight of the daffodils. Such use of things is called hyperbole.
b) How do “they” outdo the waves?
A. The daffodils outdid the waves in happiness and joy for they were both happy but the daffodils appeared to the poet much happier than the waves and that is how the poet describes the way the daffodils outdid the waves.
c) What do the waves refer to?
A. The waves refer to the raised lines of water that fly over the surfaces of the daffodils.
d)How did the scene affect the poet?
A. The scene affected the poet emotionally. It made the poet feel emotionally satisfied and blissful.
e) Pick out three words that mean “being happy”?
A. The words that mean being happy are “glee”, “gay”,’ jocund’
f) Find two examples of personification from these lines?
A. Tossing their heads in sprightly dance the waves beside them danced.
3. I gazed- and gazed – but little thought
…….the bliss of solitude;
a) What is the wealth that the poet is referring to these lines? What kind of poetic device is it?
A. The poet is referring to the wealth of being, happy, the wealth of joy. It is not a reference to the material gains or whatever amounts be worldly. It is the wealth of being happy in the company of daffodils.
The poetic device used in it is’ metaphor’.
b) Why does the poet refer to it as ‘wealth’?
A. The poet refers to it as ‘wealth’ because it brings both emotional and spiritual satisfaction and emotional bliss.
c) When does the poet feel blissful?
A. The poet feels blissful even when he is not in the company of daffodils and also simply when he gets reminded of them.
d) Why does the poet refer to it as being a ‘blissful’ state?
A. The poet refers to it as being a blissful state because he derives a spiritual and emotional bliss. Even when the poet is completely alone where normally a person cannot be but sad. The remembrance of the beauty of the daffodils makes his solitude blissful.
e) Had the poet realised the importance of the scene when he had first seen it? Give reasons for your answer?
A. No, the poet had not realized the significance of the scene when he had first seen if because, in accordance with the poet, he could not visualize what wealth of joy the sight of the daffodils had brought to him. He could scarcely believe that the recollection of the scene of the daffodils would make his vacant times a source of happiness and satisfaction.
Q.1). Why does the poet compares himself to a cloud?
Why has the poem called daffodils a crowd and how are they in contrast to his loneliness?
Ans. The poet compares himself to a cloud in the beginning of the poem because he is wandering about in a state of loneliness and detachment. Just like the clouds are moving overhead unattached to the scene below similarly the poet is walking all alone detached from the scenes of nature that surround him.
Q.2). What do the words ‘crowd’ and ‘host’ suggest?
Ans). The words “crowd” and “host” suggest a multitude or a large number of daffodils. It suggests the suddenness with which the poet comes upon the daffodils where his first impression of the daffodils is their sheer numerousness.
Q.3). How to do it daffodils resemble the stars?
Ans. The daffodils remind the poet of the stars both in their brightness and in numbers. They are golden in colour. Just as the stars shine along the curves of the heavens, similarly the daffodils the daffodils glow in along the bank of the lake.
Q.4). Why is dance important in the poem?
Ans). Dance or movement is an important image in the poem symbolizing the idea of joy, harmony and life itself. Both the daffodils and the waves are dancing in joy. Everything in nature is rejoicing in the One Life that blows through them. They are rejoicing with the principle of joy and pleasure that is there in life itself. Unlike the daffodils and the waves it is only the poet who is solitary and lonely; the only creature in creation capable of feeling not at home and wonders “lonely as a cloud.”
Q.5). Are the daffodils competing with the waves?
Ans). It appears that the daffodils are not only competing with but also outdoing the shimmering and dancing waves in the lake. The daffodils are tossing their heads about in a joyous and merry dance.
Q.6). How did the poet actually feel as “gazed and gazed”?
Ans). As the poet gazed upon the scene of the daffodils beside the lake he was mesmerised by the sight. The moment he saw the daffodils his spirit soared and the mood of loneliness and detachment changed to one of joy and happiness.
Q.7). What does “wealth” signify?
Ans).The sight of the daffodils becomes a treasure cove that lifts the poet’s spirit and rejuvenates him in times of loneliness and despair. Whenever the weariness, the fever and the fret of the world becomes too much for him he returns in his imagination to the joyous experience of that spring morning. It lends him the same joy that it gave him the first time. It becomes a permanent source of wealth or treasure to which he can turn in times of distress or need.
Q.8). Why does the poet consider solitude to be blissful?
Ans). Solitude for Wordsworth was a blissful experience where he could recall from memory the experience of joy and ecstasy that the daffodils had imparted to him. In solitude he could be rejuvenated by the sights and sounds of nature that he had stored in his memory. Solitude for him was not a lonely experience but an enriching one.
Q.9). Describe the historical or cultural or social relevance of the poem The Daffodils.
Give a brief introduction of the poet?
Ans) William Wordsworth is one of the most important poets of English literature. He was one of the eminent nature poet. He was born in the year 1770 in the English Lake District which is the most picturesque and scenic parts of England. It is filled with beautiful lakes, hills, meadows and rivulets. He was surrounded by nature since his childhood. When he moved to France to finish his graduation, the ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity of the ongoing French Revolution fired the imagination of the young poet. His poem ‘Daffodils’ is one of his most famous poems and a classic of English Romanticism. Written in 1804, it was first published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes. Later in 1815 Wordsworth revised it and it is this version that has survived till date.
The intense attention on the individual’s rights added greater emphasis to the significance of personal subjectivity and feeling. Romantic writers put a premium on ordinary, genuine, and sincere emotions. They loved speech spontaneity and detested affectation and artificiality.
The Romantic age was also an era of the Industrial Revolution, and the revolutionary ideas regarding individual rights frequently clashed with capitalist’s demands. Workers had few rights, and worked in difficult conditions for long hours. Cities grew rapidly but the factory smoke and soot often made urban life grim and grim.
Romantic literature has also provided an escape from the materialr world of capitalism and industrialisation. The individual may turn to nature in order to find his or her true self. Nature has been seen as restorative, genuine and even divine. Nature therefore offered a transcendental experience involving an aspect of pantheism, the idea that the divine is a part of all.
Q.10). Name the poets of the Romantic Movement of English Literature.
Ans) The main poets of the Romantic Movement were Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron and Keats.
Q.11). Discuss the structure of the poem.
Ans). The poem is twenty four lines long consisting of four stanzas. Each stanza is a sestet that is six lines long. It is formed with a quatrain (four lines), followed by a couplet (two lines) to form a sestet. The rhyme scheme follows the pattern of ABABCC that is: (A cloud in line one rhymes with crowd in line three), ( B hills 2, daffodils 4) and (C trees 5, freeze 6).
Q.12). What is a simile?
Ans). A simile is a figure of speech that compares two things that are not alike in most ways but are similar in one important way. It is often introduced with the word ‘like’ or ‘as.’
Q. 13). What is an image? Comment on the vivid imagery used in the poem The Daffodils?
Ans) Images are word pictures that poets use to invoke thoughts and emotions. They are used for dramatic effect to evoke a host of feelings and emotions in a few words. An image touches us in three ways that is intellectual, emotional and sensual. For instance, In the poem, the image of the breeze is not merely a visual image but also a tactile one—one that can be felt.
Q.14) What is the poet’s state of mind in the beginning of the poem and what simile he has used to depict that?
Ans) At the beginning of the poem, the poet is loitering alone, aimlessly in a state of loneliness and detachment. He compares himself to a floating cloud above valleys and hills. The simile of floating cloud suggests the sense of detachment. The image of a single cloud emphasizes the sense of detachment. It passes high over vales and hills thus suggesting the poet’s mood of estrangement and isolation.
Q.15). How the poet has described the daffodils?
Ans) The poet compares the daffodils to the stars in brightness as well as in numbers. Growing along the curve of the lake, the daffodils remind him of the stars that shine along the curve of the heavens. They seem to be as numerous and unending as the stars above. Just as if one look up at the night sky one can take in the immeasurability of the stars in one glance; similarly Wordsworth sees hundreds and thousands of flowers in a single glance. But the flowers are not standing stationary. They are acted upon by the breeze, moving and tossing their heads in a dance of joy. The flowers are tossing their heads about, reverberating in joy.