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I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

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 a 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.

-William Wordsworth





It was on April 15th in 1802 that William Wordsworth. (This information is was found at The Writer's Almanac, which is a daily radio piece hosted by Garrison Keillor. He shares literary information of the day and reads a poem. You can listen to the daily broadcast by clicking the link.)

They were returning from a visit to their friends Thomas and Catherine Clarkson, who lived on the shore of Ullswater, the second largest lake in England's lake district, a beautiful deep lake, nine miles long, surrounded by mountains.

Dorothy wrote in her journal: "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 seeds 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."

William was impressed by the daffodils too, but William didn't write anything about them for at least two years, maybe more. No one is sure when he wrote the poem "I wander'd lonely as a cloud," but it was published in 1807. Not only did Wordsworth probably reference Dorothy's journal for inspiration, but his wife Mary came up with two lines: "They flash upon that inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude." William said they were the best lines in the poem.

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