Daffodils by William Wordsworth
First stanza: the poem opens with the poet wandering in a state of loneliness. The line “I wandered lonely as a cloud” reminds us of those moods when we are aimless, undirected, as if with no purpose, and detached from the world around us. This sense of detachment from experience is reinforced by the description of the cloud that “floats on high”.
This mood is suddenly broken by the sight of the flowers, described through a series of personifications, as if they were real people. It is the presence of the daffodils, which breaks the solitude of the poet, which recalls him from his initial detachment. As in “The Solitary Reaper” it is an external element which catches the poet’s attention, which calls him back to reality, making him feel a sense of wonder and surprise.
Second stanza: in these lines W shows the daffodils as part of a universal order, a great horizon which embraces all natural elements, from the lake to the Milky Way. Paradoxically, in the whole universe, man seems the only creature capable of feeling not at home (first stanza) and at the same time the only creature capable of taking part in the joy of nature, the only creature aware, conscious of himself and consequently “gay” for the beauty, joy and liveliness that nature expresses. In short, man is the only living creature, who can really rejoice and be aware of what surrounds him.
The experience of the poet is not limited to the immediate pleasure of intellectual delight. Even more than this, lines 17-18 seem to underline the importance of having a sensorial experience, rather than making a reasoning. They could be read as an exemplification of the Romantic interest in feelings and sensations, rather than the Enlightenment interest in reason and intellect.
Fourth stanza: in this stanza a tense shift from past to present occurs “I lie”. The experience that the vision of the daffodils has provoked in the poet is not lost, forgotten in the past or retained as a mere recollection. It is something which touches the present, changes the present. The solitude described in this last stanza is very different from the melancholy loneliness of the first one. Here the poet lives the communion with the flowers and with the whole nature. Through imagination and memory he has been able to enter into and give life and significance to the world.