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The poem, Daffodils, is famous for its simplicity, sing-song-like rhythm, and thematic beauty. It is one of the best-loved poems by the fountainhead of romanticism, William Wordsworth. It talks about a simple thing: the dancing of the daffodils in a calm breeze. But, the representation is thought-provoking. The poem’s main idea deals with the role of nature in the poet’s life. If one has the eyes to see it, one can comprehend the serene beauty of simplicity within seconds. For that, the mind should be as thoughtless as a lonely cloud that floats aimlessly over the valleys and hills. Readers from all age groups can understand the poem easily and comprehend it in their way, without any restrictions at all. That’s why it is considered one of the best-loved poems in English literature.

This poem features how the spontaneous emotions of the poet’s heart sparked by the energetic dance of daffodils help him pen down this sweet little piece. On 15 April 1802, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a host of daffodils around Glencoyne Bay in the Lake District. This event was the inspiration behind the composition of Wordsworth’s lyric poem. Daffodils is a thoughtful meditation on those beautiful golden flowers. It contains a calm, soothing, and pleasant representation of mother nature that inspires the poet. The memory associated with the daffodils becomes a source of energy while the poet reflects on something or he is pensive. For such a presentation of nature, it is a beautiful example of a romantic poem.

Through this poem, Wordsworth conveys a vital message that includes how nature can be of the most incredible resort when one is feeling low or pensive. It is a source of great energy that can rejuvenate the soul. Daffodils has been dissected methodically for illustrating the poet’s mood, the surrounding location, the allegorical meanings, and the beauty of nature in full motion. The poet’s love and proximity with nature have inspired and moved generations after generations of poetry lovers and young minds.

The speaker is wandering down the hills and valley when he stumbled upon a beautiful field of daffodils. He is transfixed by the daffodils seemingly waving, fluttering, and dancing along the waterside. Albeit, the lake’s waves moved as fervently, the beauty of daffodils outdid with flying colours. The poet feels immensely gleeful and chirpy at this mesmerizing natural sight. Amongst the company of flowers, he remains transfixed at those daffodils wavering with full vigour. Oblivious to the poet is the fact that this wondrous scenery of daffodils brings the poet immense blithe and joy when he’s in a tense mood or perplexed for that matter. His heart breaths a new life and gives him exponential happiness at a sight worth a thousand words.

Though the poem’s title hints at a cloud, it is not about it. Instead, it is about a group of golden daffodils dancing beside the lake and beneath the trees. Wordsworth’s poetic persona, at some point, visited that spot, and he is describing how he felt having the sight of those beautiful flowers. The poet metaphorically compares him to a cloud for describing his thoughtless mental state on that day. Like a cloud, he was wandering in the valley aimlessly. The sudden spark that the daffodils gave to his creative spirit is expressed in this poem.

William Wordsworth

Figurative Language and Poetic Devices

Wordsworth makes use of several literary devices in Daffodils. These include but are not limited to similes, hyperboles, personification, and allusion. Similes are also used since the poet alludes to an aimless cloud as he takes a casual stroll. Moreover, daffodils are compared to star clusters in Milky Way to explicate the magnitude of daffodils fluttering freely beside the lake. At times, hyperbole is used to explicate the immensity of the situation. The allusion of daffodils to stars spread across the Milky Way is one such instance. Furthermore, the daffodils are even made anthropomorphous to create a human portrayal of Mother Nature in this instance.

Moreover, the poet has also used reverse personifications, equating humans to clouds and daffodils to humans with constant movement. Using this clever tactic, the poet brings people closer to nature, becoming a hallmark of William Wordsworth’s most basic yet effective methods for relating readers to nature, and appreciating its pristine glory. Daffodils celebrate the beauty of nature and its purity, along with the bliss of solitude. He deems his solitude as an asset and inspires him to live a meaningful life.

Wordsworth makes use of imagery figuratively to display his feelings and emotions after encountering the daffodils. Firstly, the image of the cloud describes the poet’s mental state, and the images that appear after that vividly portray the flowers. These images, in most cases, are visual, and some have auditory effects (For example, “Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”) associated with them.

Throughout Daffodils, Wordsworth engages with themes of nature, memory, and spirituality. These three are tied together as the speaker, Wordsworth himself, moves through a beautiful landscape. He takes pleasure in the sight of the daffodils and revives his spirit in nature. At the same time, Wordsworth explores the theme of memory, as he does in other works such as ‘Tintern Abbey.’ The flowers are there to comfort him in real-time and as a memory from the past.

The poem begins with a symbolic reference to the cloud. It is wandering and lonely. The poetic persona is the embodiment of such a cloud. Hence, it symbolizes being lonely and thoughtless. This state is achieved when one is free from mundane thoughts. The most important symbol of this piece is the daffodils. The narcissistic description of the flower seems to be alluding to the Greek myth. Apart from that, the daffodil acts as a symbol of rejuvenation and pure joy. Wordsworth becomes the means through which the flowers express their vibrance. In his pensive mood, they become a means for the poet’s self-reflection.

The tone of this poem is emotive, hyperbolic, expressive, and thoughtful. In the first stanza, the speaker’s tone helps readers understand how he felt after seeing the daffodils at a specific event. As the poem progresses, Wordsworth intensifies it. Thus it appears hyperbolic. In the last stanza, he chooses a thoughtful tone for describing the impact of the scene on his mind. The tone also follows the mood of the poem. Throughout the text, the poet maintains a calm and joyous mood. It is like the breeze that made the daffodils dance on that day. While going through the poem, readers can feel this relaxing mood.

Syntax

The poem is composed of four stanzas of six lines each. It is an adherent to the quatrain-couplet rhyme scheme, a-b-a-b-c-c. Every line conforms to iambic tetrameter. The poem Daffodils works within the a-b-a-b-c-c rhyme scheme as it uses consistent rhyming to invoke nature at each stanza’s end. Moreover, it helps in creating imagery skillfully as the poet originally intended. The poem flows akin to a planned song in a rhythmic structure. Consonance and alliteration are used to create rhymes.

This poem is written from the first-person point of view. Therefore it is an ideal example of a lyric poem. The poetic persona is none other than Wordsworth himself. This piece contains a regular meter. There are eight syllables per line, and the stress falls on the second syllable of each foot. There are four iambs in each line. Thus the poem is in iambic tetrameter. For example, let’s have a look at the metrical scheme of the first line:

I wan-/dered lone-/ly as/ a cloud

There are 24 lines in the poem, but just 4 sentences. The sentences are complicated due to all of the semi-colons and colons. The nouns are in front of the verbs, as well as behind the verbs. For example, in the line, “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance” the verb is in front of the noun. “Tossing” is the verb, and “heads” is the noun. In the line, “For oft, when on my couch I lie” the verb is behind the noun. “Lie” is the verb and “I” is the noun. Most of the lines have the verbs after the nouns which might be to provide emphasis. Readers may see the verb after the noun in many famous poems because of the style of literature during the days the poems were written.

The punctuation in this poem consists of periods, commas, colons, and semi-colons. There is not always punctuation at the end of each line. There are 4 end-stopped lines and 20 enjambments. Wordsworth used commas in the middle of lines. The pause created by the poet gives a more authentic way of reading the poem as if Wordsworth is narrating to the reader in person.

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δάσκαλος (dáskalos) means the teacher in Greek. Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring to various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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