Synopsis of Daffodils by William Wordsworth

Synopsis of  Daffodils by William Wordsworth

About the Poet Daffodils

William Wordsworth was a 19th-century literary stalwart and the most influential pioneer of English romantic poetry.

He was born on 7th April 1770 at Cockermouth, in Cumbria. He lost both his parents at an early age. He began to write poetry while he was at school. As a young man, Wordsworth developed a love of nature, a theme reflected in many of his poems. While studying at Cambridge University, Wordsworth spent summer holidays on a walking tour in Switzerland and France. He became an enthusiast for the ideals of the French Revolution.
In 1797, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved from Dorset to Somerset, where he met and befriended Samuel Taylor Coleridge, another great poet of his generation. They collaborated on a collection of poems titled 'Lyrical Ballads', which included many of Wordsworth's poems along with Coleridge's long poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Brought out in 1798, this collection of poems marked the beginning of the Romantic Movement in English poetry.

Wordsworth died on 23 April, 1850 and was buried in Grasmere churchyard. His great autobiographical poem, The Prelude was published after his death. The Excursion, Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, Tintern Abbey, She was a Phantom of Delight. The Solitary Reaper, Michael: A Pastoral Poem, The Leech Gatherer, The World is Too Much with Us are some of his other best-known poems that have established him as one of the most outstanding figures in the history of English literature.

About the Poem Daffodils

The poem 'Daffodils' or 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' is one of the loveliest and best-known poems of William Wordsworth. The poem was written in the year 1802. It was first published in "Poems in Two Volumes" in 1807. The very starting line of the poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud" informs the poet's profound sentiments of being left alone. It was actually the death of his brother John that led him to "loneliness." The poem was thus not a result of imagination, but that of actual visualization.

Summary of Daffodils

The poet or the speaker in this poem, says that, once while "wandering like a cloud floating above hills and valleys”, he came across a field of daffodils beside a lake. The dancing, fluttering flowers stretched endlessly along the shore, and though the shining waves of the lake danced beside the flowers, yet the daffodils outdid the water with their beauty. The poet says that the golden daffodils twinkled and stretched in a continuous line just like the stars in the Milky Way galaxy for putting a greater implication in indicating that the flowers are heavenly as the stars. He seems the endless view of the golden daffodils as a never-ending line. The poet's exaggeration of the number of flowers by saying "Ten thousand saw I at a glance" indicates that he has never seen so many daffodils at once. The poet could not help to be happy in such a joyful company of flowers. He says that he stared and stared, but did not realize what wealth the scene would bring him. For now, whenever he feels "vacant" or "pensive" the memory strikes "that inward eye" that is "the bliss of solitude" and his heart fills with pleasure, "and dances with the daffodils."

Critical Analysis of Daffodils

In this poem, which reads like a piece of memory etched deep in the poet's heart, praises the beauty of the daffodils which leaves a lasting impression on him. Divided into four stanzas, the poem deals with the subjects of nature and memory, which were close to the hearts of all the romantic poets. The style of poetic expression, as well as diction employed by Wordsworth, is easy and uncomplicated, bearing a kind of musical eloquence. The four six-lined stanzas of this poem follow a quatrain-couplet rhyme scheme: ababcc. Each line is metered in iambic tetrameter.
In this poem, the poet tells us what he observed and experienced while walking through the hills and valleys one day. He was lonely and melancholy. Suddenly, as he passed a lake, he noticed a cluster of yellow daffodils waving in the breeze. This wasn't just an isolated or scattered patch of daffodils. There were thousands and thousands of them that he saw dancing in the breeze. The speaker's loneliness was replaced by the sheer joy of seeing this lovely spectacle, and its impact was strong enough to become a piece of memory that he would love to recall in future fondly as a great gift of nature. Now, whenever he feels depressed, he just thinks of the daffodils, and his heart finds back the joy of living.

The poem starts with the poet's description of himself as a 'cloud' that floats over the hills. This presents an idea of seclusion. The idea of being alone is contradicted by the phrase "crowd" (line 3). This is actually the 'setting of the poem'. As human form Wordsworth prefers seclusion but the crowd of daffodils bewilders his senses. The feeling of ecstasy suddenly makes a dive.

The plot is extremely simple, depicting the poet's wandering and his discovery 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 characterization of the sudden occurrence of a memory—the daffodils "flash upon the inward eye”, which is "the bliss of solitude"—is psychologically acute, but the poem's main brilliance lies in the reverse personification of its early stanzas. The speaker is metaphorically compared to a natural object, a cloud, as comprehended by—"I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high...", and 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 for instilling in the reader the feeling, the poet so often describes himself as experiencing.

Nature permeates the entire poem. Phrases like "a crowd, a host.... continuous as the stars...they stretched in never-ending lines...ten thousand saw I at a glance" present deep implications of nature's extensiveness. Daffodils, an everyday found flower has been portrayed in magical verses and blended with transcendental romanticism that leaves an everlasting mark in the minds of the readers of this poem.


margin - edge, periphery:
sprightly - agile, energetic;
sparkling - shining brightly;
outdid - surpassed, excelled, outclassed;
gazed - saw;
glee - delight, joy:
gay - happy, glad, pleased:
jocund - cheerful;
vacant - empty:
pensive - sad, melancholy:
bliss - ecstasy, great pleasure;
solitude - loneliness, seclusion

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