I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

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Which poetic device is in line 1 of Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"?

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William Wordsworth's “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was published in 1807 and, although not appreciated by some early critics, it eventually became one of the most famous poems in the English language.

Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem during a walk with his sister Dorothy, on which they encountered a vast and beautiful expanse of daffodils. In fact, the poem is alternately known by the name “Daffodils.”

The first lines of the poem are:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills.

The very first line is a type of figurative language known as a simile. A simile is a comparison of two unlike things using a connective word such as like, as, than, or resembles (“like” and “as” are by far the most commonly used connective words).

Wordsworth's intent in creating the simile is most likely to show how isolated the speaker feels just before he happens to encounter the daffodils. The rest of the poem goes on to show the positive effects of this encounter—he receives gifts from the experience for the rest of his life. Later in life, when he finds himself “in solitude,” he is comforted by the memory of the flowers:

Then my heart with pleasure fills

and dances with the daffodils.

 

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