The journey between loneliness and solitude – I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud
Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. – William Wordsworth
The brilliant professor Albert Goldbarth of Wichita State University describes this poem as:
“the journey from undesirable loneliness to solitude, with an intervening communion with daffodils.” (Goldbarth, July 2010)
About the first line
I wandered lonely as a cloud….
The poem starts with “I” which refers to the speaker of the poem, who is not necessarily the poet. This “I” can also represent the “eye” of the speaker, through which internal reflections can be shown.
There are all sorts of clouds: storm clouds that connote a depressed, grim, and out of sorts inner state; clouds that blot out the sun, clouds that are full of rain. In using the simile “lonely as a cloud” Wordsworth connotes clouds that are directionless and have no will. This connotation makes the inner state of the speaker more visible and less mysterious.
Be sure to know the difference between connotation and denotation.
- Denotation – the dictionary definition of the word(s).
- Connotation – the aura of associations that go along with the word(s).
About the four stanzas
The four stanzas are like an xray of how memory functions. The first three stanzas are all about memory. They are the same size and take place at the same point in time, serving as a narrative. The fourth stanza is real life. It takes three stanzas of memory to balance one stanza of real life action.
The fourth stanza is the speaker of the poem, reclining on a couch at a point future to the first three stanzas, recollecting in tranquility the experience of transformation provided by the daffodils. The theme of the poem, then, is that memories can heal pain, even if you didn’t know it at the time the memories were created.