Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Daffodils

"Daffodils" (1804)
by William Wordsworth
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That 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.
Continuous as the stars that shine


And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
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:
For oft, when on my couch I lie


In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Notes
-This poem contains many characteristics of Romanticism.
-Daffodils are a symbol of short and fading life – plants- because they only live for almost a day.
But in this poem they aren’t taken for that side, but for how beautiful they are, and what
they are and represent.
-In Romanticism, beauty is truth “another concept”. When we are sincere with Romanticism,
we are with truth, because we love beauty “that is the truth”.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
“Lonely”: solitary rebirth, the poet is wandering between hills in the river district in
solitude. “AS a cloud”: he thinks of the cloud as lonely. But it is rare to see a single cloud in
the sky, it is common to see clouds grouped together “worshipping device?”. He means that
we feel lonely although we are physically with others as a result of worshipping nature
That floats high o’er vales and hills,
He was wandering around, looking at earth from above “simile”.
When all at once I saw a crowed,
The sudden affect: another characteristic of Romanticism, the affect is taken stronger
when taken suddenly.
A host of golden daffodils;
Whenever we talk about gold, we mean its glittering aspect, brightness, and glee.
Host and Crowd mean the same.
- We have an enjambment or link between the 1st and 2nd, and the 2nd and 3rd
lines, which are run- on “the continuous affect” that we don’t have separate affects though
we have separate lines. “Sometimes the affect can run on for a whole stanza”.
- Alliteration or similarity of sound is used in “high + hill” to strengthen the affect
and highten it, just like the enjambment.
- Another aspect that heightens the affect is “emphasis”.
- These three elements unify and enhance the affect. The poet tries to build on
this affect. Gold has many aspects, it isn’t just a color, it is a precious metal, and even the
experience of seeing the daffodils is very valuable and precious to the poet. Also. He
glittering and brightness or sparkle gives the idea of value. Gold never rusts or
changes “corrupts”, it lives on and doesn’t fade away, and so is this experience.
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
There is a balance “beside + beneath”. The line is divided into two hemistatics, and there
is alliteration in the “b” sound, which refers us to Old English poetry. He wants to give us
the sense of going back to the origin, rather than the philosophy of the Neo- Classicism.
“Fluttering + dancing”: balance, which means harmony and melody that must be
in dancing – with music and movement. Fluttering is a metaphor to butterflies and young
birds when they learn how to fly.
“Trees + breeze”: an emphasis on the fact that the breeze I everywhere, and this
wind plays the role of music to the daffodils, causing their dancing. Harmony in nature and
the human soul is an idea of Romanticism. The poet is always alive and vivid whenever he
sees nature, and lives in it and with it even if he was far away from it.
Dancing will occur in all stanzas.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never- ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance’
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
We found refrain in song “poetry is singing, and there’s harmony in singing”.
“Shine + twinkle” give the same affect, but while shining is continuous, twinkling isn’t
exactly the same.
The image in the 1st line is taken from the sky, as ell as the simile in the 2nd. He’s trying to
build up a unity of affect. We will find some common things in the 1st and 2nd stanzas; they
have the same form and affect. When using the word “continuous”, he is not talking about
the daffodils, but about their affect on him. The 3rd line is an emphasis on the meaning of
continuation. “At a glance” gives the sudden affect again.
-“Dance”: a key word that occurs in every stanza as a link.
-“Sprightly”: angelic, so light and pure like spirits and angels.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Overdid 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:
Dancing is mentioned again, and the sparkle and glee mean the same as shine
and twinkle. Here is a personification of the natural element “company”. The poet
finds himself in such a company, with peasants and country people in his imagination.
This company is only elements of nature, they accompany him like other human beings.
“I wander + I gazed”: “I” is subjective – which is another concept of Romanticism.
I gazed but never thought that the show was so rich and affective, that I would
be touched by it long after.
For oft, hen on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood’
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And they my heart with pleasure fills’
And dances with the daffodils.
The stanza starts with an enjambment “between 3rd + 4th stanzas”, otherwise
a stanza cannot start with “for” unless it was referring to a past thing.
So often when I’m home relaxing, and not thinking about them at all –whether I was
thinking about anything else or not, they suddenly come to my mind every time
I’m alone. They impose themselves on my memory and imagination. “Bliss”: this is the good
side of solitude. In solitude, things or good experiences will come back to you, and you
will see them with the same affect as you saw them the first time, if not stronger.
A main concept of Romanticism: the affect or function of poetry is to rise pleasure in us,
to please us and fill our hearts with joy, not to teach as believed in the Neo – Classical era,
and to transfer that pleasure to the readers. “Heart + pleasure” are reoccurring concepts in
Romanticism.
My heart is dancing with the daffodils that are touched by the gentle breeze, and are
fluttering and dancing, and tossing their heads “personification”, and the waves are also
dancing and sparkling like the daffodils, though not as strong and affective. What the poet
sees goes straight to his heart, and the experience of seeing and hearing the shoe gives him
joy and pleasure to its max or peak, and his heart dances with them – which means that he
is in complete harmony with nature. He forgets most experiences he has had, but if they
come back to him, that means that they are too treasured and valuable to be forgotten.
Therefore, he collects and preserves them in writing poetry, but those he has forgotten are
not worth writing about.
FORM: 4 stanzas with 6 lines each.
RYTHEM: 4 feet in each line – tetrameter.
- In Romanticism, there isn’t much attention paid to regularity, but here there is,
because this poem is about dancing and harmony, therefore there must be balance
and symmetry.
RHYM: a , b , a , b, c , c…
- the rime is very regular, which makes us understand that the form is built for
the context of pleasure and harmony.
- What e says about the language of “The Daffodils” is about the language of man.
The way the whole is structured. The language here is so simple that everyone can
understand it. Words fit with each other, and the way he expresses feeling in the poem are
as well. Still not everyone can be such a poet.
- German Romantic poets say that Romanticism for them means all the
arts together, i.e., there is a link between poetry and pectoral arts – painting,
statues…etc.
- We see that “ The Daffodils” is like a painting, e.g.: the use of colors, also the use
of a certain form. We see that the daffodils are in the middle of the field near the lake.
He looks at them as a painting within nature. The breeze gives music for the daffodils to
dance, the fluttering is linked to music as well.
- The most important thing in this poem is the last stanza. They sneak or come
towards him without any intention of him to conjure them “spontaneously”, and in his heart
they give the same sensation of the first time, in the same affect.
as explained by Professor Raddadi

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