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Comparing the daffodils

An exercise to compare the two versions of Wordsworth's poem, 'I wandered lonely as a cloud', and with Dorothy Wordsworth's journal entry.
© Lancaster University

If you need to, listen again to the reading of Dorothy’s 15 April 1802, journal entry and to the two versions of William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘I wandered’, published in 1807 and 1815. Think about the following questions and let us know your thoughts.

What difference does it make that William begins both versions of his poem with “I” while Dorothy uses both “we” and “I” in her account?

What are the differences between Dorothy’s and William’s encounter with the daffodils themselves? What is their relation to them?

What does William choose to use and not to use from Dorothy’s account and why?

How does William revise the poem between 1807 and 1815? How does the poem change?

What is the purpose and role of Dorothy’s and William’s texts? Do they have a different message?

Mary, William’s wife and Dorothy’s friend, also contributed two lines to William’s poem: ‘They flash upon that inward eye /Which is the bliss of solitude’. William said that these were the best lines in the poem. How does it change what you think of the poem to realise the input that came from others?

© Lancaster University
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William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

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