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

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are the figures of speech in the third stanza of "Daffodils," by William Wordsworth:

The waves beside them danced, [personification=waves given human characteristics],but they/Out-did the sparkling waves in glee;[personification]/

A poet [metonymy=a part to represent the whole:  "poet" represents all people] could not but be gay,/

In such a jocund company [personification=daffodils are happy like people]:/I gaze--and gazed--but little thought/

What wealth [metaphor:  "wealth"=contentment, meaning] the show  [metaphor for the beauty of Nature in the "show" of the daffodils] to me had brought

In 1762 when Jean-Jacques Rousseau published The Social Contract, this Romanticist wrote that man is born free, yet "we see him everywhere in chains."  Like Rousseau, Wordsworth perceives the breaking free of these chains of society in order to regain communion with Nature as highly desirable.  Indeed, man's melancholy is caused by the unnatural restraints of society.  When he gazes at daffodils (Nature) and senses the beauty and joy of Nature, he is free and happy.  Wordsworth, like Henry David Thoreau, felt that man's existential meaning was derived from the rural scene rather than in the cities, the centers of civilization.  Until he sees the "jocund" daffodils, the poet "wanders lonely as a cloud," but once in touch with Nature and its happy beauty, he finds meaning and joy in his life with the expression of human emotion. ("What wealth the show to me had brought.") For, when the poet senses again the beauty of the daffodils, his "heart with pleasure fills."

epollock | Student

William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is so rich in language that it would not be possible to go over all of the elements in the poem within the space limits here. But I will surmise a few things about stanza three here.

          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.

Iambic tetrameter can warrant an entire hour of discussion. It reveals a simple image, a simplistic understanding, of which something is sudden, and an epiphony. Alliteration of g (glee, gay, gazed, gazed) obviously serves a purpose for a hard consonant sound.

By the end of the third stanza, it appears that the something (remembering) that is happening to the narrator is economic from the word "wealth," as if he is making a deposit in the bank of his memory. And he is going to derive interest, the rewards, from an investment after the initial experience is over.

"Sparkling" continues a pattern of "twinkling" and of glistening like a flash. What does "show" do to the poem? It is a performance that he is watching and the daffodils are performing that show.

"A poet could not but be gay" is not stated as "I felt happy" or "I felt gay." He identifies himself as a third-person poet, not with I (not likely to be everyone) with an understatement --a negation of fact, not "a poet was gay" or "I was gay."

This doubt could lead to him not being gay or happy because it is sated in a negative way. But with repetition of motifs such as the four elements: air, earth, water (waves in this stanza), and fire.

"Danced" is repeated in all four stanzas. A past tense of stanza two is mirrored to stanza four. The reposition of being together, and in this stanza the word company, brings him together with nature, with the experience,a bonding if you will that can never be separated.

The richness of this poem is vastly understated. It provides for an abundance of investigations in language.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question