Monday, August 31, 2015

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud - William Wordsworth

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 a sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; by they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be bay,
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.

Imagination, memory, day-dream, and solitary walks.  Wordsworth hits at the heart of poetry here.  It is the joyful impulse of creation, of motion and beauty so wonderful that it never really goes away.  Wordsworth's lonely wandering was hardly sad, for what cloud (he wandered "as a cloud" after all) is sad?  Clouds are lofty, majestic, changing constantly.  He blew onto this marvelous scene of daffodils ringing the coastline, dancing in the wind, outdoing even the sea itself for motion and joy.  He couldn't help but be jovial in such company as that.

The real gift though, is the memory of it.  The lovely image that comes to him in his daydreams, that perfect remembrance, more perfect than any reality.  It is the "inward eye which is the bliss of solitude."  That must be the single best way to describe a daydream, the inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.  Upon reading the poem, I leaned back in my chair, and let my mind wander to moments and images which now on recollection feel as magical to me as Wordsworth's daffodils.  The poem is at once personal, descriptive, and immediately applicable to anyone.  Who among us doesn't take joy in their sweetest remembered daydreams?  Those beautiful places our minds go are the reason one who is alone needn't be lonely.

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