April is National Poetry Month. It’s also one month closer to summer! In honor of this month of blooming flowers and rejuvenation, we’re sharing an interpretation of William Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” This poem, which shares a memory of viewing a field of blooming daffodils, is powerful not only for the natural imagery it contains but for the sentiment it evokes. You can read the entire poem here.
William Wordsworth was born in England in 1770. His poetry is representative of the English romantic tradition, which also includes poets like Robert Burns, John Keats, and Lord Byron. This tradition focuses on an individual’s senses and, often, relationship with the natural world. Wordsworth’s poem exemplifies this tradition with its use of a collection of blooming daffodils to consider the self. But it is not until the final stanza of the poem that the significance of Wordsworth’s journey is revealed:
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.
Though the couch that Wordsworth sits on to reflect is very different from the plushy lounge chairs we are familiar with today, the sentiment is still relatable: it can be challenging to take in or comprehend the significance of a moment while that moment is happening. But after the moment has passed and the mind has formed it into a memory, it becomes clear that the sight of the daffodils has the power to bring joy and a meditative mood to the poet’s mind. Solitude is not necessarily a bad thing in this poem. In fact, it is the very thing that enables Wordsworth to reflect on this meaningful walk and to harken back to the lively scene of daffodils dancing in the wind alongside the sea.
This poem is thought to have been inspired by a springtime walk that William Wordsworth took with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth through the Lake District of northwest England. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to see daffodils blooming now. During your next walk, take a moment to pause and look at the flowers around you. As this poem demonstrates, it’s a quiet but powerful act that can resonate long into the coming year.