I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud Poem Summary & Line by Line Explanation in English ICSE 9th


The lyric poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud or Daffodils by William Wordsworth is considered to be one of his best poems in modern times. The poet narrates a small incident in which he got an opportunity to see a huge number of daffodils in a valley.

The poem consists of four stanzas having six lines each. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABABCC and the main theme is the beauty of nature.


Stanza 1

I wandered 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.

In the first stanza, the poet says that he was wandering lonely as a Cloud that floats on high o’er vales and HillsThe phrase refers to him being roaming around without any purpose. He was all alone like a cloud that floats high in the valley.

Usually, the clouds are not alone, but here the poet probably refers to a fragment of the cloud that moves among the hills in the valley. Unlike the clouds that are full of rain and thus move in purpose, this fragment has no particular direction to move and just roams around above the valley.

While roaming in the valley he suddenly sees a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils. The words crowd and host mean a large number of people. Hence the poet uses personification and attributes the human qualities to daffodils.

The poet calls daffodils golden rather than yellow in order to express their majesty and beauty. According to the poet, he sees a large number of daffodils beside the lake, beneath the trees i.e. along with the shores of the lake and below the trees because they are small.

The daffodils seem to be fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Again the poet personifies the daffodils by showing them as flapping (wings of birds or in imaginations that of angels) and dancing (like humans) in the moving breeze.

In a way, the poet imagines as if the daffodils possess the qualities of both thus of the world and the meta world. Hence this is the example of juxtaposition in I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud.

Stanza 2

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.

The second stanza begins with the comparison between daffodils along the lake and stars in the Milkyway. The poet says that the daffodils stretched in never-ending line along the margin of a bay. The bay here refers to the lake.

According to the poet, the daffodils which covered the shore of the lake seemed to be unending like the stars in the sky and like them (the stars of Milkyway), they were too twinkling.

The phrase Ten thousand saw I at a glance is a hyperbole that means the poet saw a large number of daffodils which he could not count. The daffodils were Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The word head here refers to the top flower part of the plant.

Sprightly dance means lively and jubilant dance. The daffodils were thus moving their heads (flowers) in a rhythm which looked quite amazing and seemed to the poet as they were dancing.

Stanza 3

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:

In the third stanza, the poet brings in the waves waving in the lake. The poet says that the waves beside them danced; but they out-did the sparkling waves in glee. 

The lin means that there were waves too which seemed to be dancing in the lake, but the joyful dance of the daffodils was far better than theirs. And for a poet like Wordsworth himself, their joyful company was the ultimate source of pleasure and ecstasy.

These lines somehow reflect the ideals of the Romantic Age and its theme return to natureThe ultimate source of joy for the Romantics was nature and its appreciation.

Hence in the poem, the poet concludes that seeing the daffodils dancing along the lake is the dream of every poet including him and being there is like dream coming true.

And thus the poet gazed—and gazed i.e. kept looking on the daffodils and their dance. However, he could not fully appreciate the scenery before him. Wealth here means ‘happiness‘.

For the Romantics, nature and its beauty was the ultimate wealth and because it was in abundance, he could take away just a little bit of it though he kept watching them.

Stanza 4

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.

In the fourth and final stanza, the poet says that while sitting on his couch (a kind of bench) and in vacant (when he is idle) or in pensive mood (when he is sorrowful), the memories of those daffodils flash upon his inward eye i.e. his spiritual or the Romantic vision.

Their memory then becomes the source of joy in his solitude. His heart is then filled with pleasure and dances with the daffodils. Thus the memory of the daffodils becomes his companion in his solitude and taking away all his sorrows and boredom make his spirit dance with them.

Key Thoughts: Imagery

In the poem, the poet uses various things to describe the beauty, joy and elegance of the daffodils. In stanza 2, he compares Daffodils with a galaxy of stars. In stanza 3, he compares them with the waves of the lake. The poet thus wants us to feel the beauty of nature.

There is no use of materialistic examples. Throughout the poem, the poet emphasises nature and natural things. And thus it is the complete rejection of the newly developed industrial world and an escape to nature and the rustic world.

Poetic Devices

  • Simile
    • lonely as a cloud
    • as the stars that shine
  • Hyperbole
    • Ten thousand saw I at a glance
    • stretched in never-ending line
  • Personification
    • a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils
    • dancing in the breeze.
    • Tossing their heads in sprightly dance
    • waves beside them danced
    • inward eye

Further Reading

  1. Questions-Answers on I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils)
  2. Play Quiz on I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils)