William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) wrote beautiful poetry. The poem I wandered lonely as a cloud is a typical example of the poetry of the Romantic Era. In this lyrical ballad, the poet used his own life as a form of inspiration.
The poem I wandered lonely as a cloud is based on the events that took place on 15 April 1802. It isn’t as uncommon as one might believe. When walking with his sister Dorothy, the poet came across a field filled with daffodils. It took him about two years to transform this into a poem. If Dorothy didn’t write down her thoughts, this poem probably wouldn’t have existed.
When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up – But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway – We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the Sea.
— Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal Thursday, 15 April 1802
The poem was first published in 1802 and a second version was published in 1815. It is the poem that this poet is most famous for. In the poem, Wordsworth described a belt of daffodils that grew just outside Grasmere in the Lake District, where he lived with his wife and his sister.
Below is the version of 1815.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
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.
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 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.
— William Wordsworth