Treasure Trove A Collection of ICSE Poems Workbook Answers Chapter 6 Notes – Daffodils – ICSE Class 10, 9 English
About the Poem
The poem is a word picture of daffodils at Ullswater. In 1802 William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s visited Glencoyne Park. On 15th April 1802, they passed the strip of land at Glencoyne Bay, called Ullswater.
It is this visit that gave Wordsworth the inspiration to write this famous poem. The poem ‘Daffodils’, also known by the title ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, is a lyrical poem written by William Wordsworth in 1804. William Wordsworth is a well-known romantic poet who believed in conveying simple and creative expressions through his poems. He once said, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”
The poem was inspired by an event on 15 April 1802, in which Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a “long belt” of daffodils. William Wordsworth wrote Daffodils on a stormy day in spring, while walking along with his sister Dorothy near Ullswater Lake, in England. He imagined that the daffodils were dancing and invoking him to join and enjoy the breezy nature of the fields.
Written some time between 1804 and 1807 (in 1804 by Wordsworth’s own account), it was first published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes, and a revised version was published in 1815. In a poll conducted in 1995 by the BBC Radio 4 Bookworm programme to determine the nation’s favourite poems, this poem came fifth. Often anthologised, the poem is commonly seen as a classic of English romantic poetry.
About the Poet
On April 7, 1770, William Wordsworth was born in Cocker mouth, Cumbria, England. Wordsworth’s mother died when he was eight—this experience shapes much of his later work. Wordsworth attended Hawkshead Grammar School, where his love of poetry was firmly established and, it is believed, he made his first attempts at verse. While he was at Hawkshead, Wordsworth’s father died leaving him and his four siblings orphans. After Hawkshead, Wordsworth studied at St. John’s College in Cambridge and before his final semester, he set out on a walking tour of Europe, an experience that influenced both his poetry and his political sensibilities. While touring Europe, Wordsworth came into contact with the French Revolution. This experience as well as a subsequent period living in France, brought about Wordsworth’s interest and sympathy for the life, troubles, and speech of the “common man.” In 1802, he returned to France with his sister on a four- week visit to meet Caroline. Later that year, he married Mary Hutchinson, a childhood friend, and they had five children together. In 1812, while living in Grasmere, two of their children—Catherine and John—died.
Equally important in the poetic life of Wordsworth was his 1795 meeting with the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was with Coleridge that Wordsworth published the famous Lyrical Ballads in 1798. Wordsworth’s most famous work, The Prelude (1850), is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of English romanticism. The poem, revised numerous times, chronicles the spiritual life of the poet and marks the birth of a new genre of poetry. Although Wordsworth worked on The Prelude throughout his life, the poem was published posthumously. Wordsworth spent his final years settled at Rydal Mount in England, travelling and continuing his outdoor excursions. Devastated by the death of his daughter Dora in 1847, Wordsworth seemingly lost his will to compose poems. William Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850, leaving his wife Mary to publish The Prelude three months later.
The central idea of the poem is the expression of the comfort and cheering the author finds in the beauty of observing the daffodils. The poem expresses the idea of communion with nature and the tranquillity it brings in our lives. The poem is a tribute to the beautiful daffodils and the joy that is inherent in nature.
- Wander (Verb) – To walk slowly around or to a place, often without any particular sense of purpose or direction.
- Float (Verb) – To move slowly on water or in the air.
- Vale (Noun) – Valley
- Fluttering (Noun) – A quick, light movement.
- Toss (Verb) – To move one’s head this way or that.
- Sprightly (Adjective) – Full of life and energy.
- Outdo (Verb) – Surpass.
- Glee (Noun) – A feeling of happiness.
- Gay (Adjective) – Happy and full of fun.
- Jocund (Adjective) – Cheerful
- Gaze (Verb) – To look steadily at somebody /something for a long time.
- Pensive (Adjective) – Thinking deeply about something, especially because you are sad or worried.
- Bliss (Noun) – Extreme happiness.
- Solitude (Noun) – The state of being alone, especially when you find this pleasant.
This simple poem, one of the loveliest and most famous in the Wordsworth canon, revisits the familiar subjects of nature and memory, with a particularly (simple) spare, musical eloquence. The plot is extremely simple, depicting the poet’s wandering and his discovery of a field of daffodils by a lake, the memory of which pleases him and comforts . him when he is lonely, bored, or restless. The characterization of the sudden occurrence of a memory—the daffodils “flash upon the inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude”— is psychologically acute, but the poem’s main brilliance lies in the reverse personification of its early stanzas. The speaker is metaphorically compared to a natural object, a cloud— “I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high…”, and the daffodils are continually personified as human beings, dancing and “tossing their heads” in “a crowd, a host.” This technique implies an inherent unity between man and nature, making it one of Wordsworth’s most basic and effective methods for instilling in the reader the feeling the poet so often describes himself as experiencing.
This poem, is well-loved because of its simple yet beautiful rhythms and rhymes, and its rather sentimental topic. The poem consists of four six-line stanzas, each of which follow an ababcc rhyme scheme and are written in iambic tetrameter, giving the poem a subtle back-and-forth motion that recalls the swaying, daffodils. The poem comprises four stanzas and each stanza has six lines. There is the use of alliteration and assonance. The poet has used simile in the title of the poem and in the second stanza. Daffodils are animated as dancing and further personified as ‘sprightly’. Metaphors like inward eye and the heart can be found in the poem. The language is simple in this poem. By comparing himself to a cloud in the first line of the poem, the speaker signifies his close identification with the nature that surrounds him. He also demonstrates this connection by personifying the daffodils several times, even calling them a “crowd” as if they are a group of people.
The poem goes through a gradual shift:from wandered lonely (line 1) to but be gay (line 15) and pleasures fill (line 23). This in actual reflects Wordsworth’s life. The feeling of loneliness was marked by the death of his brother John. Dorothy had been a great sister to Wordsworth and also Wordsworth got married in the same year 1802 (his second marriage). These life events were actually responsible for Wordsworth’s happiness in his life and thus correlates with the joyful Daffodils.
Daffodils analysis will be incomplete without illustrating the tone of the poem. This poem is typically Wordsworth an. It portrays Nature at its best and encompasses her grace to the pinnacle which every poet cannot reach. It projects Wordsworth’s extraordinary delight in understanding and exploring common place things. Emotions recollected in tranquility are the distinct factor which differentiates Wordsworth from other poets. The emotions associated with Wordsworth in this poem, Daffodils is not ephemeral but rather permanent and everlasting. The poet derives the same bliss from his thoughts about the daffodils as when he actually saw them.
They flashed upon the inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude:
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dance with the daffodils.
The first three stanzas deal with the description of the nature whereas last stanza is the recollection of the poet’s experiences. Another important romantic element is the spontaneous expression of personal emotion in simple and ordinary language: this was the revolution brought about by the Romantic Movement.
In his lonely condition, he could be compared to a cloud floating in the sky over hills and valley. All at once he saw a large number of golden daffodils growing under the trees on the bank of the lake. A light breeze was blowing and the daffodils moved gently and danced merrily in the breeze. The daffodils grew along the bank of the lake in a line that extended as far as the poet’s eyes could reach. They looked like a continuous line of stars shining in the Milky Way. The flowers were so many that the poet imagined he could have seen at least ten thousand of them at a glance.
They were tossing their heads in a merry dance. The waves in the lake were dancing too. But the daffodils excelled the dancing waves in happiness. It was quite natural for a poet to feel happy in such a delightful company. The beautiful sight filled him with a great joy, and he kept gazing at the flowers for a long time. At that time he did not, however, realize how valuable this scene would prove to him in the years to come. Later, whenever the poet lay on his couch in a sad or thoughtful mood the daffodils would flash in his imagination. He acknowledges that one of the greatest blessings that solitude can offer is that old memories can be easily and vividly revived. The memory of the daffodils would immediately fill his heart with pleasure and he would begin to dance along with the flowers.And then the poet’s mind starts dancing along with the daffodils as the sheer memory of them is enough to feel his heart with ecstasy. The poem, in this way is not only a description of natural beauty but also a celebration of the fact that nature is always a source of inspiration for people.
The idea of remembering the beauty of nature even when not in its presence appears in several of Wordsworth’s later poems, including “Tintern Abbey,” “Ode; Intimations of Immortality,” and “The Solitary Reaper.” Even though the speaker is unable to appreciate the memory he is creating as he stands in the field, he later realizes the worth that it takes on in sad and lonely moments.
The title is apt as the whole poem is about the daffodils and how they have become a source of perennial joy to him.
The poem depicts a clear shift from the real world full of tensions to the utopian world of nature where peace and happiness prevail. The very opening line , ‘ I wandered lonely as a cloud,’ shows the poet’s sense of loneliness. There is then a sudden shift to the beautiful world of nature where the beautiful flowers capture his attention, and he is transported to another world of bliss.
The form of the poet is a lyric. It gives expression to a single feeling of joy in nature. It is short and musical and appeals more to the heart than the intellect. The poet uses various literary devices. Personification is used when he compares himself to a ‘cloud’ and the daffodils to a ‘crowd’. He uses similes when he compares his idle wanderings to a cloud floating over hills and valleys. He then compares the dancing daffodils to the twinkling stars in the sky.
As for structure the poem is divided into four stanzas- each having six lines with the rhyme scheme of ababcc in iambic tetrameter.
Alliteration can be seen in the line,’ I gazed and gazed.’
Inversion is evident : ‘For oft, when on my couch I lie’.
The ‘inward eye’ refers metaphorically to the poet’s memory.
The poem has a light and delicate sound that reminds us of a dance. It is the dance of the speaker’s heart, described at the end of the poem. The stanzas are like mini-poems that share the same form and subject matter.
One of the big ideas of Romanticism is the notion that the spiritual vision – the imagination – can hold greater truths than those given by our senses. We can never fully express what goes on in our imagination, but the notion of an “inner eye” captures the sense of reality that it gives us. Wordsworth is all about that “inner eye.”
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