I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

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I need a paraphrase of the poem "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth.

In the poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth, the speaker is in desperate need of inspiration. Fortunately, he finds it in the form of a “host of golden daffodils.” They rouse him out of his slumbers and stimulate his poetic imagination.

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A paraphrase captures the meaning of a piece of writing in different words. It doesn't summarize, but rephrases.

In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker is taking a walk in nature. He is sad and lonely and compares that loneliness to being like a cloud floating high and by itself in the sky. However, just as he is feeling this way, he sees a great cluster of daffodils. They are beside a lake, beneath some trees, and they are swaying in the breeze.

The speaker in stanza 2 describes the daffodils. He says there are as many as the stars in the Milky Way. They seem to stretch forever in front of the lake. There must be 10,000. They seem like people, their golden blossoms blown back and forth by the breeze as if they are tossing their heads and dancing.

In stanza 3, the speaker continues to describe the scene. The breeze makes the lake ripple and sparkle, but that is nothing like the movement of the daffodils in the breeze. They seem much more joyful than the little waves rippling on the water. The speaker describes himself as a poet and says he can't help but feel lighthearted and delighted as he watches the daffodils because they seem so alive and jolly. He watches and watches, transfixed by the scene. But at this time, he doesn't think about the riches their waving in the breeze brings to his soul.

In the final stanza, the scene shifts inside. The speaker notes that when he is lying down or in a sad mood all by himself, he remembers the daffodils and feels joyful. He says his heart then seems to join their happy dance.

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Wordsworth's famous poem is not so much about the joys of nature as of the natural world as a source of poetic inspiration. Like many Romantic poets, Wordsworth was inspired by nature in writing his poems. He didn't believe that nature was simply a giant collection of pretty objects; rather, it was a living force in its own right.

One can see the Romantic attitude towards nature on display in the poem. The speaker is wandering “lonely as a cloud,” meaning that he's in desperate need of poetic inspiration. However, the speaker's wanderings come to an end when he sees “a crowd / A host, of golden daffodils.” Although the daffodils are indeed beautiful as they flutter and dance in the breeze, what makes them special is that they give the speaker the inspiration he needs. For good measure, he feels cheerful in their company:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company.

The speaker's encounter with the daffodils has changed his life. From now on, whenever he's lying on his couch, absentminded or in a state of deep thought, he's roused from his reverie by the thought of the daffodils, which fills him with joy as well as stimulating his creativity. Daffodils can be seen, then, as a metaphor for nature and...

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the profound effect it has upon the poetic imagination.

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Wordsworth's poem is rather straightforward, written in language that most everyone should understand. So rather than try to paraphrase the poem word for word, I'll explain briefly what each stanza is saying.

I wandered lonely as a cloudThat 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.

Simply, the author is walking near a lake when he comes upon a "host," or large bed, of daffodils. "Vale" is another word for "valley."

Continuous as the stars that shineAnd twinkle on the milky way,They stretched in never-ending lineAlong the margin of a bay:Ten thousand saw I at a glance,Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

There are as many daffodils as there are stars in the sky--so many they can't be counted. He says in one glance he can see "ten thousand," which is a large number used to express how large the bed of flowers is. They seem to be dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but theyOut-did the sparkling leaves in glee;A poet could not be but gay,In such a jocund company!I gazed—and gazed—but little thoughtWhat wealth the show to me had brought:

The waves of the lake lap at the shore, but the sound the daffodils make as they dance in the wind outdos the sound of the water. The poet can't help being happy when he is in such joyful (jocund) company. He looks at them for a long time, but he doesn't yet appreciate what experiencing these flowers has done for him.

For oft, when on my couch I lieIn vacant or in pensive mood,They flash upon that inward eyeWhich is the bliss of solitude;And then my heart with pleasure fills,And dances with the daffodils.

Now, in the final stanza, the poet knows how much the flowers have affected him. Often, when he is lying on his couch or when he is in a thoughtful (pensive) mood, an image of the daffodils will come to him, and then his heart fills with pleasure and "dances with the daffodils."

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