Introduction of the poem
Wordsworth lived in the picturesque Lake District in England. The poem is based on an experience that he had with his sister and constant companion, Dorothy, on April 15, 1802. Fortunately, Dorothy kept a journal, and she wrote about the day that she had her brother unexpectedly came across a “crowd” of daffodils:
“The wind was furious….. the Lake was rough…. When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up – But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breath of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that below upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing.”
On April 15, 1802 Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy went to their friends, the Clarksons, at Eusemere. When they were coming back to Grasmere, they saw a large number of golden daffodils growing on the bank of a lake Ullswater in the Lake district. They both were astonished by the mesmeric beauty of these daffodils which were fluttering and dancing with the light breeze. Wordsworth didn’t write this poem until 1804, and it was published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes. He revised the poem and published it again in his Collected Poems, which is the version most people read today. With its expressions of joy and unity with nature, the poem is destined to remain a classic. It is a typical of Wordsworth’s revolutionary style of writing poetry in ordinary, everyday language.
Summary of the Poem
Once the speaker poet was loitering alone pointlessly beside a lake. He was all alone to wander freely and he compared himself to a patch of clouds floating in the sky, over the valleys and the hill. Suddenly he could view the large number of daffodils gathered by the side of the lake. They were sheltered under a growing tree. The Daffodils resembled the colour of gold and the airy breeze made them wave and dance, rejoice and play. The poet however could not estimate their number as they spread along extensive sides of the lake.
They resembled innumerable shining stars that one could see in the night sky in the form of the Milky Way. As the poet made an instant glance, he could see myriad of daffodils waving their heads, as if they were rejoicing and dancing in joy. Seeing this, the waves of the lake accompanied these daffodils in their dance, but their lustrous dance was in no way comparable to the delight and gaiety of the flowers the poets seemed to have frenzied with the ecstasy of delight.
He realized that a poet who was susceptible to natural grace could not help but feel happy in the presence of such gay and beautiful flowers. He gazed at them, hardly knowing what enormous treasure he was accumulating in his mind.
That vista was impregnated in the poet’s mind for an everlasting time. In future, when the poet lay down on his couch, either in a lonely or a pensive mood, the entire panorama that he saw in the woods appeared before his mind’s eye. In solitude, when his mind was unrestrained by disturbing elements of the real world, the revived the memories of the daffodils. When the memory of that sight came into view of the poet, he was able to derive ecstatic pleasure which he ad enjoyed actually.
Critical Appreciation of the Poem
This poem is very simple, and it is considered one of the loveliest and most famous in the Wordsworth canon. It revisits the familiar subjects of nature and memory, this time with a particularly (simple) spare, musical eloquence. It also reflects his concept of the romantic imagination and his belief in the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, which he acknowledged as the theory of poetry. The plot is extremely covery of a field of daffodils by a lake, the memory of which pleases him and comforts him when he is lonely, bored, or restless. The daffodils are continually personified as human beings, dancing and “tossing their heads” in “a crowd, a host.” This technique implies an inherent unity between man and nature, making it one of Wordsworth’s most basic and effective methods.
It was inspired by an April 15, 1802 event in which Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, came across a “long belt” of daffodils, written in 1804, it was first published in 1807 the poems in two volumes, and a revised version was released in 1815, which is more commonly known. It consists of four six-line stanzas, in iambic tetrameter and an ABABCC rhyme scheme.
Stanza-wise Explanation of the 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.”
Wordsworth lived in a part of England known as the Lake District, which is filled with lot of hills, valleys and lakes. We can assume he was walking in a fairly remote and wild part of the countryside.
Two pictures attract the attention of the readers in the 1st stanza. The first is that of the lonely clouds that are floating over the hills and the valley. The poet equates himself to the cloud to prove that he was also sojourning the area alone.
The second picture forms the basis of the poem – it is one of the daffodils. The poet saw that the daffodils were dancing in the mild breeze. The full grown flowers were golden in colour. The daffodils were personified and imagined to be doing human activities like swaying and dancing. There is also a hint that the daffodils are otherworldly.
“Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a boy
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”
The poet compares the multitude of daffodils to the stars in the Milky Way. The stars in the Milky Way are seen in such a condensed form that we cannot distinguish one star from the other. The daffodils are similarly huddled together as not to be differentiated from each other. That is why the poet has used the word ‘crowd’ earlier to mention the daffodils. Then the poet uses the number which signifies the concentration of the daffodils along the side of the particular lake the poet was walking beside. The daffodils have been imagined to be dancing “Tossing their heads”. They are very joyous and their joy is manifested in their active 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.”
The poet here explains the beneficial influence of Nature on the mind of Man. He takes his own case and says that whenever he is in a sad mood he goes into seclusion. Then in his mind’s eyes he recapitulates the picture of the daffodils swaying themselves with the blow of the gentle wind. Immediately afterwards his heart is filled with joy “And dances with the daffodils”. In those moments even when he is “in a pensive mood” he is offered the “bliss of solitude” by the thought of the daffodils. So, Nature exerts her beneficial influence on the poet twice-first when he actually views the daffodils and then when he sees the daffodils in his imagination.