In his poem, I wondered lonely as a cloud, William Wordsworth applies different elements of poetry to highlight his themes. For instance, he uses symbolism to connect human beings with their immediate environment (nature). A symbol is an object either living or non-living that represents something else in reality; therefore, the reader has to think carefully to unravel the hidden meaning. Wordsworth use of symbolism in his poem reveals his observatory skills and his ability to appreciate the nature around him.
The title and the first stanza of the poem highlight the first symbol in the poem. The persona likens himself with a cloud yet naturally, the cloud is a non-living object located many miles away from the earth.
The cloud is a symbol, which represents loneliness. Moreover, the cloud is naturally incompatible with the earth surface or human beings but the poet’s close identification with the cloud reveals his loneliness, isolation, and desolation from the world around him. In the second stanza, he compares the distance between the clouds, valleys, and hills, which means he is aware but not happy with his separation from the immediate world.
Through the personification of the clouds, the speaker is able to express the extent or impact of his loneliness. Besides being under emotional turmoil, he has nobody to talk to, associate with, or assist him in solving his personal problems, which hurls him into depressed. Just like the clouds, he finds remedy in roaming around, with a sole aim of trying the luck of stumbling upon something to fill up his loneliness.
In the fourth line of the first stanza, the persona identifies the daffodils at the lake, which symbolize love/happiness. He calls the daffodils a ‘crowd’, which is a word only used to identify human beings (Cummings Para. 3).
The dancing prowess of the daffodils especially the movement of their heads symbolizes the happiness the persona is yearning to experience one day. Although he is lonely and sad, the observation of the flowers puts a smile on his face. Thus, the daffodils (flowers) are a symbol or source of happiness, which is the heart’s desire of the persona. In addition, the speaker observes that the daffodils dance better than the waves, which confirms that when he is happy, he is automatically connected to the world.
The high number of daffodils the speaker observes grows naturally and they symbolize the rich environment or soils he lives in; therefore, probably the source of his unhappiness is not economical but maybe social oriented. Additionally, when the speaker is unhappy he only remembers the daffodils to alter his somber mood, the daffodils offer him company; they cheer him up.
The use of natural objects like the stars, plants (flower), the cloud, valley, hills, lakes, and the breeze/waves symbolizes that the nature is the only source of inspiration in the speaker’s life. He derives his emotional nourishment from remembering the beauty and dancing of the flowers.
He connects the random arrangement of the flowers to the stars, which cheers him. Wordsworth also proves the realistic side of his work when he uses the natural rather synthetic objects. Moreover, his use of nature may have a hidden meaning whereby he might be calling for the emotional or spiritual malnourished persons to preserve and adapt the nature as the source of happiness in their lives. Therefore, through the connection to the nature, the speaker symbolizes the unity that exists between human beings with the nature.
Due to the power of the nature, the speaker strengthens the need of living in a community. When he describes the daffodils, he associates the flowers with a crowd flourishing in their natural habitat. Thus, the word ‘crowd’ here symbolizes the unity people have to explore in the world in that, the crowd of daffodils takes away his loneliness.
For instance in the second stanza he says, “Ten thousands saw I at glance/” (Wordsworth line 11), which reveals the large number of the daffodils. Similarly, due to their large number, the flowers not only dance well, but also shine. In addition, he also calls the flowers a ‘host’, which means despite being large in number they make him happy.
Therefore, Wordsworth poem aims at calling for peace, love, unity, and togetherness in his community because he associates words in collective form with his own happiness. The flower, as a symbol, represents the people in his community who are not only supposed to live together, but also to stay happily or in harmony with each other.
In summary, symbolism is an element of writing especially in poetry. Symbols have hidden meanings, which need the reader to unravel intelligently. Wordsworth uses natural objects to express the theme of nature. He uses the natural objects like flowers to both inspire him and promote unity in the society.
The distance between the clouds and the earth is large yet the persona identifies with the cloud, therefore his identification symbolizes the retraction or loneliness between him and the surrounding people. Finally, the author uses symbols to promote peace and togetherness in his society.
Cummings, Michael. I wandered lonely as a cloud: A study guide, 2008. Web. 15 June 2011.
Wordsworth, Williams. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.” Poemhunter, 2002. Web. 15 June 15 2011.