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William Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud is a poem focusing on the poet’s response to the beauty of nature.  The final version of the poem was first published in Collected Poems in 1815. An earlier version was published in Poems in Two Volumes in 1807 as a three-stanza poem. The final version has four stanzas. Wordsworth wrote the earlier version in 1804, two years after seeing the lakeside daffodils that inspired the poem.

The poem recaptures a moment on April 15, 1802, when Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, were walking near a lake at Grasmere, Cumbria County, England, and came upon a shore lined with daffodils. Grasmere is in northwestern England’s Lake District, between Morecambe Bay on the south and Solway Firth on the north. The Lake District extends twenty-five miles east to west and thirty miles north to south. Among its attractions are England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike (3,210 feet), and Esthwaite Lake and other picturesque meres radiating outward, like the points of a star, from the town of Grasmere. Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, moved to a cottage at Grasmere in 1799. After Wordsworth married in 1802, his wife resided there also. The family continued to live there until 1813. The Lake District was the haunt of not only Wordsworth but also poets Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas De Quincey. Dorothy, who kept a diary, described what she and her brother saw on that April day in 1802.

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This poem speaks to me of many things but mostly of the beauty and greatness of nature.  It reminds me of why I enjoy the solitude of nature and how the memories of being in wide open spaces create place for my mind to travel to when the small story of life becomes the only story.  We all live in great story – our role is to remind ourselves that there is something much greater and much grander happening and that we all having a leading role.

May you, my brothers and sisters, find your place this week where you can wander and marvel at creation.  May it fill your soul and create a place and a greater story where you can go to when you feel the smallness of life overwhelming you. Grace and peace be yours.

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.

– William Wordsworth

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