A Host of Golden Daffodils

A Host of Golden Daffodils

This week’s poem is “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth and I’ve chosen it to mark the reappearance of daffodils—the harbingers of Spring.

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.

William Wordsworth (1770—1850)

Poem 255. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

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.

This poem was composed after a walk by the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy discovered a great sweep of lovely yellow flowers blowing in the breeze and were much impressed by the sight.

Wordsworth very ably recreates the memory in the first stanza and uses words usually associated with large numbers of people: “a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils”, suggesting not only the multitudes of flowers but an implication of rhythmic movement that neatly captures the gentle undulations of the daffodils “fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.

He develops the idea in his second stanza, emphasising the multiplicity on display with a comparison to the stars in the Milky Way and suggesting thousands of blooms; the idea that the flowers are moving nimbly as if dancing is repeated.

The third stanza tells us of the joy Wordsworth derived from the sight; the dancing motif continues and the host of flowers is compared to a merry company of revellers who bring a smile to the face of anyone in their company. Wordsworth remembers how he simply stared without appreciating a deeper joy it brought him: “I gazed—and gazed—but little thought what wealth the show to me had brought”.

In the fourth stanza, he says that from that moment, when brooding or allowing his thoughts to drift, the idea of the daffodils often breaks his train of thought and brings him tremendous joy “And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with the daffodils.” Once again, the dance motif appears as a metaphor for the happiness he feels.

I like it because it is a simple poem about joy and the happiness we can derive from a natural scene, even long afterwards.


  • Read about the poem at Wikipedia.
  • Listen to Helen Mirren’s performance on YouTube.