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Please analyze the fourth stanza of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" and show the figures...

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teardrop | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 26, 2009 at 9:41 PM via web

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Please analyze the fourth stanza of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" and show the figures of speech?

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:43 PM (Answer #1)

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teardrop,

William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," 1804, is incredibly rich in language and resonates on so many levels through a subject of remembering. The fourth stanza reads as follows:

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.

The first thing one notices is the poem is in iambic tetrameter. It is a gentle melodic rhythm that parallels flowers swaying back and forth in the "breeze." The poem begins with "solitary life" in the first line, and ends with "company or a "group life" in the end. He moves from a single entity to a member of the natural world.

The flowers "flash" parallel "glistening," "golden", and "wealth," like something economic, making a deposit in the bank of one's mind reaping the reward after the initial experience is over.  They are money in the mind's bank.

The daffodils are personified as performing an aesthetic action for him, a "show" from the third stanza. The flowers are rooted firmly in the ground.  They are performing for him in the beginning and then with him in stanza four.

Flash--a form of fire completes the allusion to the four elements in the poem, earth, air, and water. The four stanzas are complete; it is a natural completeness in remembering an action performed by nature.

The poem works on repetition and variation.  Much is repeated and reiterated. Dance or a form of it is in every stanza. Most of the power of repetition lies in that he was in the same condition in the beginning as he was in the fourth stanza: "vacant" and "pensive" as in the first stanza when he was a will-less passive cloud. The flash is indirect, not directly to him, to the "inward eye" forcing him to relive the experience.

But notice that he relives the experience, in the fourth stanza, in the present tense. Three stanzas of the poem have been in the past tense, the fourth stanza is in a continual present, recapitulating the first three but in the present time.

The poem not only recounts but also dramatizes the working of the mind. And memory was one of Wordsworth's great themes and subjects. It also makes a statement about how memory works: unwilled and independent. And it does so in the last line with a telling and delightful use of alliteration and a particular emphasis on a preposition with. The word bridges the poet and the daffodils, receiving stress as a stressed syllable would in iambic verse.

At the time he didn't know what was happening to him, that's why he could "not but be gay" at the time. But in the aftermath he is delighted and his heart "fills with pleasure," a union with the flowers in the very end.

In this poem, the experience of seeing the flowers was weaker than the actual remembering of the flowers, which was so much stronger. People might have a sense of experience as the opposite, that in remembering, it is not as powerful as the original experience. But in this case, Wordsworth proves how powerful memory can be.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 26, 2009 at 10:48 PM (Answer #2)

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The fourth stanza of this poem shows the speaker away from the daffodils, at home, and thinking back upon them.  The thought is demonstrated as a picture in his "inner eye."  This picture brings him joy and he "dances with the daffodils."  The rejuvenating spirit of nature is highlighted in this stanza, and Wordsworth uses personification and metaphor in this stanza for his meaning.

First he personifies the daffodils, giving them the power to "flash upon" his inner eye.  This echoes the personification of the earlier stanzas, when Wordsworth brings the daffodils to life in their dancing ways.  The reason for this is to honor this aspect of nature in a humanly way, giving it more importance and power. 

Metaphor is used in the last two lines, when the speaker suggests that he "dances" with them.  He is comparing his uplifted spirits with a literal dance in order to demonstrate how effective the image of nature is in uplifting his spirits.

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