Summary of The Daffodils Stanza-wise:
The poem consists of 4 stanzas. Each of these stanzas is again made up of 6 lines. Hence, the entire poem consists of 24 lines in total. It is written in the first person, hence we can equate the speaker of the poem with Wordsworth himself.
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.
In this stanza, the poet says that he was walking around alone and without any particular destination in mind. He compares this state of his to a solitary cloud in the sky that floats in an aimless direction over both hills and valleys. While walking alone, the poet suddenly comes across a large number of daffodils growing in one place. These daffodils were in fact growing next to a lake, in the shade of many tall trees, and they were being swayed by a light 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.
In this stanza, the poet continues his description of the daffodils that he came across while walking alone one day. He says that the daffodils grew in one straight line that seemed to have no end. At no point in its entire length did the line of daffodils seem to have any interruption or discontinuity. In fact, the poet compares the density of the daffodil flowers to the density of the stars that form a part of our galaxy – the Milky Way – and that can be seen shining in the night sky. Right next to the bay, the poet thinks he sees as many as ten thousand daffodils, and all of them seemed to be dancing in a cheerful and light-hearted manner.
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:
In this stanza, the poet’s focus shifts slightly from the daffodils, and falls instead on the lake beside which they are growing. He says that the waves in the lake are shining due to the reflection of the sunlight on the water’s surface. However, the daffodils are so bright and fresh that they are sparkling even more than the waves. The poet imagines that the daffodils are happy to be winning this contest, if indeed it were a contest. He also says that he could not help being happy either. Being in the presence of the daffodils’ glee makes him gleeful in his turn. The poet keeps staring at the beauty of the daffodils, but he cannot even imagine what value this image will come to hold in the future.
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.
The hint that was made about the image of the daffodils in the countryside is explained in details in this stanza. The poet says that when he is staying in the city, he often lies down on the sofa at his house and feels like looking back on his memories, especially the one of seeing the daffodils. At that point, the image of the daffodils returns to the poet’s mind. It is not his physical eyes that can see the daffodils now, but the vision of his mind that lets him imagine them. He knows that such memories can only be relived when he is alone. And when he relives the memory of the daffodils, his heart is filled with a sense of joy and he imagines himself dancing alongside the daffodils.