I wandered lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils)
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a Cloud (Daffodils) Theme of Memory and the Past
"I wandered lonely as a Cloud" is almost like a simpler version of "Tintern Abbey," one of Wordsworth’s other most famous works. In both poems, the memory of beautiful things serves as a comfort to the speaker even after the experience of viewing them has ended. He can always draw on his imagination to reproduce the joy of the event and to remember the spiritual wisdom that it provided. In the case of "I wandered lonely as a Cloud," we do not realize just how far in the future the speaker’s perspective is located until the fourth stanza, when he describes just how often the daffodils have comforted him.
Questions About Memory and the Past
- If the speaker could forget his loneliness so quickly, do you think he was that lonely to begin with? Are there kinds of sadness and loneliness that no image, no matter how beautiful, can alleviate?
- How would you explain the phrase, "but little thought what wealth to me had brought" (line 18)? What does the speaker mean by "wealth"?
- What is the relationship between happiness or bliss and memory at the end of the poem?
- Does the speaker make a conscious effort to remember the daffodils, or do they come into his head spontaneously? Is there a middle ground between these two options?
Chew on This
The speaker’s joy ("bliss") upon remembering the daffodils is not as a powerful or long lasting as the original experience.
The speaker has no control over when the daffodils "flash" into his mind. The recollection is mysterious and spontaneous.