I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

[Also known as "The Daffodils"]

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
⁠Outdid 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.


  1. The speaker elaborates on what he meant by the “wealth” that the “show” of daffodils brought him in the last stanza. Though the experience has passed, he can recall the pleasure he felt when the memory of the daffodils “flash upon that inward eye.” Therefore, the wealth of his experiences rests more in memory than in the immediate moment—and it is the ability to recollect and re-experience pleasurable events that enables a poet to write.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The final two lines of the poem use polysyndeton, or the repetition of conjunctions like “and,” “but,” and “or,” in rapid succession. Wordsworth’s repetition of the conjunction “and” calls attention to the most important theme of the poem: the necessity of memory, or “that inward eye,” in providing joy long after an experience has passed.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The adjective “pensive” means dreamily thoughtful. A “pensive mood” can involve solemn thoughtfulness or musing. The speaker underscores the profound impact of his time among the daffodils by contrasting the rich natural imagery of the previous three stanzas with the starkness of lying on his couch in a melancholy, thoughtful state—which is transformed when he remembers the “jocund company” of the daffodils.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. This line uses alliteration, or the repetition of consonants. Repeating the softness of the letter “w,” as opposed to a harder consonant, reinforces the poem’s tone and flowing rhythm.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. The phrase “I gazed—and gazed” uses diacope, or the repetition of words separated by other words. Wordsworth’s use of em dashes (—) establishes an even greater emotional impact because it interrupts the flow of the line in order to emphasize the significance of the poet’s experience.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. The adjective “jocund” means cheerful, lively, and merry. Wordsworth continues to personify nature by attributing human characteristics—in this case, cheerfulness and the ability to provide company as people would—to the natural world.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. In this context, the adjective “gay” means to be happy and excited. The speaker has transitioned from lonely wanderer to happy poet, who derives joy and inspiration from the natural scene around him.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Wordsworth uses hyperbole when he claims to see a never-ending line of daffodils along the bay. Hyperbole involves exaggerating for the purpose of emphasizing or calling attention to something. Exaggerating the number of daffodils to the infinite extends the simile introduced at the beginning of the stanza, in which the daffodils are compared to the endless stars of the Milky Way.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. This line uses sibilance, or the repetition of words containing the letter “s.” When compared to the repetition of other consonants, sibilance can provide greater emotional impact because of the distinct hissing sound created when the line is spoken aloud.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. Wordsworth uses a simile to develop the image of the daffodils. A simile, which compares two things by using the words “like” or “as,” strengthens the impact of images and concepts in memorable ways that can reveal underlying themes in a text. In this comparison, Wordsworth possibly suggests that the daffodils—or their image and influence—have an enduring power on par with the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. This comparison introduces one of the poem’s most significant themes: the importance of memory and imagination, which prolong the impact of an inspiring experience for years to come.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. The noun “host” here refers to a sizable gathering and often appears in biblical contexts, such as a heavenly host. Wordsworth, who often romanticized nature in his work, perhaps suggests that the dancing daffodils are angelic or divine.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. The repetition of the vowel “a” in the words “all,” “at,” “saw,” and “a” is an example of assonance. Assonance, which features a vowel that repeats in rapid succession, reinforces both the poem’s rhythm and its surreal, dreamlike tone.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. The first two lines of the poem use enjambment, in which a thought or phrase that begins in one line continues into the following line. In this context, enjambment creates a dreamlike flow while also extending the poem’s first significant image: a lonely cloud floating over vast expanses of land.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. The noun “vale” is another word for valley. Wordsworth expands upon the experience of loneliness expressed in the first line by urging the reader to imagine a solitary cloud floating far above valleys and hills.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  15. Wordsworth employs personification, or the attribution of human qualities to nonhuman things, in this line. The speaker, a poet, uses a simile to compare his wandering to that of a lonely cloud—as though clouds experience loneliness in the way that humans do. In this context, personification enriches the poem’s vivid imagery by encouraging readers to identify with its natural elements.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor