The poem, I wandered lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth is an exemplary piece of poetry if only for its use of symbolic elements throughout. Even in the first few lines it becomes apparent that Wordsworth is trying to convey some kind of profound concept in expertly veiled items like trees, water, and clouds. The poem's main meaning would be lost were it not for this perfect use of symbolism..
The most readily apparent symbolic element of the poem is the reverse personification of the poet himself with the line "I wandered lonely as a cloud." In doing this, Wordsworth takes the reader out of the action, away from the world to a high place that is hardly reachable. He has made himself alienated and at the same time an element of nature, paralell to the earth. He has become an impartial and isolated third party that will bear witness to the ongoings far below. Wordsworth continually describes all other elements in the poem as having human characteristics. The daffodils are "tossing their heads" in a "sprightly dance". This draws a stark contrast between Wordsworth as the poet and the blissfull crowd of floweres below.
The second symbolic element of the poem are the daffodils themselves. Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world.
The trees that loom up next to the daffodils are a major element in the poem as well, though relatively little attention in paid to them. Nature scenes including trees and forests contain multiple mythic and symbolic qualities. The deep-rooted meaning of trees is apparent in common metaphors such as the Tree of Life and our ancestral heritage depicted in family trees. Christians see Christ as the cosmic carpenter and His ultimate sacrifice is represented by a wooden cross.
The next element of symbolism to take note of is the water itself. Water is often used to symbolize things in literature. Since water is often a sign of life, many times water represents life. Water can also be broken up into two categories: fresh water and bad/polluted water. Fresh water can represent good health, and bad water symbolizes bad health. Arthurian legends employ the idea that if one walks in a river long enough they may find themselves in the fairy/mythical world. Water features in many Bible stories; Moses' is one example.
These elements come together in a very surprising and unique way that seem to mirror the feelings and emotions of the humans they are meant to portray in the poem. Wordsworth is trying to convey the idea that nature is more alive than most people give it credit for. He seems to be trying to tell us to stp[ to appreciate the wonder of nature every now and then and to not get so lost in day to day activities. It is in this way that symbolism is the most vital part of William Wordsworth's I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.
You need to be logged in to comment