I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

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What features of Romanticism are present in "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"?

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First, we see the way the individual can be inspired and even bettered by a relationship with nature. The speaker talks about the "wealth" that has been brought him by the sight of the daffodils dancing in the breeze; when he recalls them, his "heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils." He is delivered from sadness later, from his "vacant or [. . .] pensive mood[s]" by his memory of the lovely flowers that recall him to "the bliss of solitude."

Second, the speaker does highlight and emphasize the importance of spending time alone. Alone, he is able to recognize the "jocund company" of the flowers in nature without distraction by another person. The Romantics believed that solitude could help one to learn more about oneself and could give a person the opportunity to get away from what society dictates and learn to hear and hone their own thoughts and priorities.

Third, the speaker really focuses on his own feelings, showing the primacy of the individual and his or her experiences and emotions to the Romantic way of thought. The entire poem is comprised of the speaker's impressions and memories and the feelings inspired by them.

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The chief aspect of Romanticism that can be identified in this poem is the interaction between man and nature, and in particular the way that nature is presented as something that can impact the mood of man and bring joy and happiness. Note how this is captured in the penultimate stanza:

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...

The daffoldils as they "dance" in the wind bring the speaker into a mood of unbridled happiness, and it is only later on that the speaker recognises that this sight is one that is of immense "wealth" to him because, as the final stanza states, he is able to remember it whenever he is feeling "pensive" and sad and the happiness he experienced when he first saw that sight is restored. What makes this poem such a powerful expression of Romanticism therefore is the way that it captures how nature can impact the mood of man and give him a reminder of the majesty of creation, which is enough to bring him out of his momentary troubles and remember that he is part of a universe that is much bigger than he, and his troubles, are.

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Critically comment on the romantic features of "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud."

Until the poet is in communion with Nature he is "lonely as a cloud," but when his spirit connects with the lovely sight of the daffodils, he "could not but be gay" with the "wealth the show to me had brought."

Wordsworth's mention of the "inward eye" that is the "bliss of solitude" reminds the reader of Emerson who said that he had become "a transparent eyeball" because he felt that

The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other...In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. 

So, too, is the poet in the bliss of Nature.  Truly, this poem contains Romantic elements in its harmony of joy in both man and nature.

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