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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Daffodils by William Wordsworth



Literary Analysis (Summary)

In earlier versions, Daffodils is titled “I wondered lonely as a cloud”, which is the first line of the poem. This lyrical poem is William Wordsworth’s most famous poem. It is also a romantic poem that appreciates the beauty of nature. The work of nature being appreciated in this poem is daffodils, a tall yellow spring flower with tube-shaped part in the middle.

                                            
The inspiration for this poem stems from a visit to a lakeside by William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy on April 15, 1802, in which they encountered a group of daffodils close to the waterside. As it is peculiar to the romantic tradition, Wordsworth explores this work of nature as a spiritual influence in human life. In Romanticism, there is a strong belief that one can attain spiritual harmony by connecting to nature.

The speaker, a lonely poet in a pensive mood, walks aimlessly along a lake and suddenly, he discovers “a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils”. The daffodils are “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”. The poet, who is in a thoughtful mood, is puzzled by the ecstatic display of the daffodils. They glitter like the stars in Milky Way Galaxy “that shine and twinkle”. The daffodils “stretched in never-ending line” as far as the eyes can see.

To the poet-speaker, it is a beautiful sight to behold. They are just too many: “Ten thousand saw I at a glance”. As the daffodils toss “their heads in a sprightly dance”, the troubled spirit of the poet is lifted up and his initial melancholic mood begins to vanish. Even the waves beside the daffodils dance. The waves appear to have contracted the excitement of the daffodils. But the daffodils “out-did the sparkling waves in glee”.

Such was the elaborate display of elation by the daffodils that it infects everything around it. The lonely poet too is not left out in the infectious excitement of the daffodils: “A poet could not but be gay”. He becomes more cheerful “in such a jocund company” of nature. He finds a pleasant companionship and inspiration amidst the daffodils. At this point, the poet is passing through a healing process from his initial state of chronic loneliness to a happy person. As he “gazed- and gazed”, he seems not to be aware of the total transformation that has taken place in him. But he confesses that the show of watching nature exudes so much happiness and joyful gyration has brought him wealth. This is far away from financial wealth. The unquantifiable relief derived from the transformation he has experienced amounts to wealth. Hence, he feels satisfied. That sums up the popular saying: Health is wealth.

Towards the last stanza, the setting moves from the lake to the poet’s house, on his couch. Whenever he lies on his couch in a depressed and “pensive mood”, all he has to do is to remember his encounter with the daffodils and he would find reasons to be cheerful. While he “flash upon that inward eye”, he switches to the spiritual imagination that connects him to the beauties nature bring. If the work of nature can be so delighted even in its solitude “beneath the trees”, human beings who have dominion over nature should be more cheerful all the time.

In his loneliness, the memory of the poet’s “jocund company” with the crowd of dancing “golden daffodils” gives him joy. That is “the bliss of solitude”. In seclusion, he has a therapy that can cure his loneliness. In other words, nature is therapeutic. Whenever this natural therapy spontaneously flashes upon his imagination (inward eye), the poet’s life is filled with pleasure and his heart “dances with the daffodils’. In conclusion, one can safely say that nature is beneficial to the physical and spiritual well-being of human beings.


Notes
The poem contains 24 lines of four stanzas, six lines for each stanza. It has a rhyme scheme of ab ab cc. The last two lines end in a rhyming couplet.  It is written in first-person point of view with the repetition of “I”. The lonely speaker is a poet, perhaps Wordsworth himself, describing his encounter with the daffodils and how it has influenced his life.

Themes
The beauty of nature
Health is wealth
Loneliness kills
Nature is therapeutic
Happiness is a key to liveliness


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2 comments:

  1. Aside the cure nature brings, can we also say nature is a source of inspiration and nature is a way of connecting to the supernatural through the "inward eye"?

    ReplyDelete