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'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud': A William Wordsworth Poetry Analysis

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/20/2012

This William Wordsworth poetry analysis examines one of his most famous works, and commonly taught in high school English classes.

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    British Romanticism

    Of all the famous poems of Wordsworth, none is more famous than "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". To fully understand the poem and any William Wordsworth poetry analysis, a brief look at the tenets of British Romanticism is in order. British Romantics emphasized the following:

    1. The Beauty of the Supernatural - a William Wordsworth poetry analysis will invariably identify a connection between nature and the supernatural. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is no exception.
    2. The Importance of Nature - The obvious theme of the poem is the beauty of nature and its ability to allow one to connect with God.
    3. Championing the Individual - The narrator's experience in the meadow is personal and individual.
    4. The Dangers of Technology - There is no overt reference to technology. Romantics, however feared that man's ability to connect with nature was being compromised by technological advances.

    For more on the British Romantics, follow the link provided.

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    Before continuing, print the poem. An analysis of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" produces the following observations:

    1. Rhyme Scheme - ababcc - the rhyming couplet at the end of each stanza produces a natural break to go along with the natural break caused by a new stanza. The last line of each stanza, therefore, carries added emphasis. The last line mentions "the show" and produces images of dancing daffodils, a lasting impression of an impression Wordsworth discusses.
    2. Meter and Rhythm - iambic tetrameter. The meter creates a song like rhythm, a rhythm to which daffodils might dance. Wordsworth also uses alliteration and consonance to create rhythm.
    3. Line 1 contains a simile comparing the narrator to a cloud, making him at one with nature. The comparison to the cloud suggests free floating and drowsiness. The narrator is relaxed. A "host of golden daffodils" attracts his attention.
    4. Line 7 uses a simile to compare the procession of daffodils to the eternity of the stars in the milky way, creating a link between Nature and the Universe which links the narrator to the Universe.
    5. Line 9 uses hyperbole to express the vastness of the vision, an eternal vastness perhaps: "They stretched in never-ending line."
    6. Line 12 uses personification. The daffodils have become a living entity.
    7. Line 13 uses personification and comparison. The waves danced too, but they do not produce the glee the daffodils have created.
    8. In stanza 3 the narrator admits that at the time of the incident, he had no idea of the impact.
    9. Stanza 4 relates that the subconscious and the soul receive the greater impact from the experience as the daffodils "flash upon that inward eye."
    10. Theme: In order to understand oneself and one's place in the universe, one must connect with nature.

Romantic Poets: Blake and Wordsworth

Romanticism refers to a literary movement that began in late eighteenth-century in England. It does not refer to the movement of your hands from the steering wheel to your girlfriends shoulder last Friday.
  1. Interpreting William Blake's Poetry: "The Lamb" and "The Chimney Sweeper"
  2. Analysis of "The Tyger" by William Blake
  3. 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud': A William Wordsworth Poetry Analysis
  4. Important Quotes From William Blake's Poems
  5. British Romanticism: Poem Examples