“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
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 sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did 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.
Note to Kai:
You already know this poem (partly because the writers of “Big Fish: The Musical” ripped it off and you got to sing a love song based on it. You also know it is by a Romantic poet–not my favorite Romantic poet (that would be Keats; he’ll come up later) because he is sometimes trying to make things simpler than they are. But he is a really good “starter poet” for simple, straightforward nature & feeling poems. Sometimes deceptively so.
The reason I picked this poem (other than wanting to start with an old favorite you already know) is that it has taken on a whole new meaning for me in the spring of 2020. As of this week, it is a social distancing poem. About wandering off by yourself and watching the outdoor world closely because all over sudden it is a different place–and later lying on the sofa by yourself and recalling what you saw. We need the walks. We also need the “inward eye / which is the bliss of solitude.” And we need to keep dancing with the daffodils.