I wandered lonely as a cloud poem analysis

I wondered lonely as a cloud

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

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Structure and Rhyme Scheme

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  • The poem contains four stanzas of six lines each. In each stanza, the first line rhymes with the third and the second with the fourth. The stanza then ends with a rhyming couplet. Wordsworth unifies the content of the poem by focusing the first three stanzas on the experience at the lake and the last stanza on the memory of that experience.  
  • Couplet Two successive lines of poetry with end rhyme. 
  • Rhyme scheme: ABABCC


The meter is iambic tetrameter, which just means that each line has four ("tetra") iambs. An iamb is a short, unaccented syllable followed by a longer, accented syllable. Below is an example. We broke up each of the iambs and put the accented syllables in bold font.

I wan|-dered lone|-ly as | a cloud That floats | on high | o’er vales | and hills.

The meter is regular and consistent, especially compared to many of Wordsworth’s other poems, which have a more conversational sound. All in all, the poem is as tidy and orderly.



Literary devices of the poem

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Alliteration: lonely as a cloud (line 1). 

Alliteration: golden Daffodils (line 4). 

Alliteration: Beside the Lake, beneath the trees, 

Alliteration: high o'er vales and Hills (line 2). 

Alliteration: When all at once (line 3). (Note that the w and o have the same consonant sound.) 

Simile: Comparison (using as) of the speaker's solitariness to that of a cloud (line 1). 

Personification: Comparison of the cloud to a lonely human. (line 1)

Personification/Metaphor: Comparison of daffodils to a crowd of people (lines 3-4). 

Personification/Metaphor: Comparison of daffodils to dancing humans (lines 4, 6). 

Hyperbole- Ten thousand saw I at a glance,(line11)

Hyperbole - They stretched in never-ending line(line 9)

Metaphor- Lines 21-24: Wordsworth imagines the daffodils in his spiritual vision, for which he uses the metaphor of an "inward eye." His heart dances like a person, too.


Summary and meaning of the poem

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The speaker says that, wandering like a cloud floating above hills and valleys, he encountered a field of daffodils beside a lake. The dancing, fluttering flowers stretched endlessly along the shore, and though the waves of the lake danced beside the flowers, the daffodils outdid the water in glee. The speaker says that a poet could not help but 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 flashes upon “that inward eye / That is the bliss of solitude,” and his heart fills with pleasure, “and dances with the daffodils.”

Meaning of the poem according to stanza

Summary, Stanza 1

While wandering like a cloud, the speaker happens upon daffodils fluttering in a breeze on the shore of a lake, beneath trees. Daffodils are plants in the lily family with yellow flowers and a crown shaped like a trumpet.



Summary, Stanza 2

The daffodils stretch all along the shore. Because there are so many of them, they remind the speaker of the Milky Way, the galaxy that scientists say contains about one trillion stars, including the sun. The speaker humanizes the daffodils when he says they are engaging in a dance. 



Summary, Stanza 3

In the third stanza the speaker compares the waves of the lake to the waves of daffodils and decides that even though the lake is “sparkling,” the daffodils win because they have more “glee.” He then comments that he, like any other poet, could not help but be happy “in such a jocund company.” He looked at the scene for a long time, but while he was there he was unable to understand what he had gained from the experience. 

Summary, Stanza 4

In the fourth and final stanza the poet describes what he gained from the experience. Afterwards, when he was lonely or feeling "pensive," he could remember the daffodils, seeing them with his "inward eye," and be content.



themes and settings of the poem

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Theme of the poem

1. Nature' s beauty uplifts the human spirit. Lines 15, 23, and 24 specifically refer to this theme.  

2. People sometimes fail to appreciate nature's wonders as they go about their daily routines. Lines 17 and 18 suggest this theme.  

3. Nature thrives unattended. The daffodils proliferate in splendor along the shore of the lake without the need for human attention. 


Settings of the poem

  • bay of a lake
  • end of the poem, the setting shifts indoors, to the speaker’s couch, where he sits bored and staring off into space. 


Background of William Wordsworth

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William Wordswort (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850)

William Wordsworth was born in 1770 in Cockermouth, Cambria, the scenic mountainous region of northwest England known as the Lake District. 

He was the second of five children, sent away to Hawkshead Grammar School after his mother died when he was 8.

Five years later, his father died, and the children were sent to live with various relatives. 

In 1787, William began his studies at St. John’s College, Cambridge, with the help of his uncles.

While he was still a university student, Wordsworth visited France during its revolutionary period (1790) and came under the influence of its anti-aristocratic, republican ideals. 



I wandered lonely as a cloud(1804)

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I wandered lonely as a cloud(1804) by William Wordsworth


 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. 6

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. 12

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: 18

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.  24