Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Poetry Analysis

From studying at university, doing a degree in literature and history, I learnt many valuable things. Mostly, that if you cant find a taxi home at 4am, just sleep off your drunkeness in the campus library... its in the middle of town and the security is lax after midnight.

But the other valuable thing was to appreciate poetry. I feel a lot more people would love poetry if they took the time to appreciate it. It takes a little work sometimes, to peel back the layers and see the inner message laid out through the structure and form... but it is worth it.

To start you off, heres my analysis of Wordsworth's "The Daffodils" or "Wandered lonely as a cloud"...


Wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

Basically what he is saying here is that he was walking about, by himself. The cloud comparison is a little weak, because you tend to see clouds in large groups, often merging with each other... which if compared to real humans, suggests they are pretty much floating around having sex, right? Plus clouds dont get lonely, they are a bunch of vapour and stuff.

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.

He saw some daffodils. He very specifically states where they are, presumably in case you want to fact check his poem and check they are really there. Fluttering and dancing may be poetic license and not neccesarily open to fact checking.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Again, this is a poetry thing. Logically we all know there isnt going to be as many daffodils as would be needed to "stretch in a never-ending line" as that would be infinite daffodils, an amount unlikely to exist.

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

He says 10,000 at a glance... but really, he couldnt have counted, especially not in a timeframe as brief as a glance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay...

A poet being gay certainly sums this poem up.

...In such a jocund company:

Obviously he means gay in the sense of happiness, apparently daffodils dancing around makes him happy and suggests that no other poet could fail to be happy in similar circumstances. Knowing a few poets, I am inclined to agree, rather ordinary stuff like that does seem to enthrall them.

I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

He is still yammering on about how awesome these daffodils are.

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;

When he is chilling at home, which before tv or the internet was invented just meant sitting on your couch basically, he would be thinking...

And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

... about those daffodils and be happy. Basically, he is way into daffodils. And that makes him happy. The first time he saw them, he was just mildly impressed, but now he thinks back on it he is super impressed. Enough that he felt the need to share it with us all, in verse form. Though, he seems to strong imply this a one time thing, the dance of the daffodils that did it for him. Presumably, living in the country, he has seen daffodils before and they probably did nothing for him. But this one time, they blew about, he now reflects back on the moment with uncontained joy. Which is, lets face it, weird.

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