Reflection And Tranquility In William Wordsworth's Daffodils

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“Flash upon my inward eye”: The Role of Reflection and Tranquility in William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”

In his preface to Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth famously writes that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth, Wu 509). However, it is important to note that he modifies this statement by adding that “though this be true, Poems to which any value can be attached were never produced on any variety of subjects but by a man who, being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had also thought long and deeply” (Wordsworth, Wu 509). In short, “good poetry” must be written during periods of reflection on intense and profound moments of sensory perception. For Wordsworth, the poems of Lyrical
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To him, all poetry is a synthesis of emotions and personal reflection. In the preface he again describes this process calling poetry an “overflow of feeling” that “takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity” (Wordsworth, Wu 515). This dialogue between sensation and tranquility is best represented in the poem “Daffodils,” written between 1804 and 1807. In this poem, the speaker describes moments of encounter and, later, how that encounter pleasantly lingers in his thoughts. The folksy meter of the poem and the venerative language used to describe rural subjects and emotive sensation emphasize the importance of tranquil recollection and reflection in the poetic process. Wordsworth's poem “Daffodils” recounts an encounter that he and his sister had with a cluster of daffodils while strolling along the hills. The poem itself was inspired the diary entry from 1802 his sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, wrote about the incident. She describes the flowers as “so beautiful...they looked so gay—ever-glancing, ever-changing” (Wordsworth, Wu 606). The poem, however takes a different approach to describing the scene. It begins with the lyric-speaker’s encounter with the group of daffodils. He …show more content…
Initially, he describes the daffodils as a crowd, which might imply an overwhelming multitude. Immediately, he changes the description to “a host,” which connotes a more cheerful, welcoming group. Additionally, to further his spiritual connection to nature, the descriptor “host” recalls images of “heavenly host,” a biblical term for the angels. “Host” emphasizes the warm and divine connection Wordsworth has to the flowers. His self-correction from “crowd” to “host” also highlights the speaker’s consciousness; as he recalls the encounter in the first few stanzas, he also considers how best to represent and write about his experience. Wordsworth’s poetic style is reflective of this theory of poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquillity.” In this stanza it is clear that through a process of recollection and reflection, he makes art from moments of sensory

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