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William Versus William Essay

1604 words - 7 pages

An individual’s solitude can come from the state of being alone; however, this word goes deeper for the purpose here. To be in a solitary state does not mean an individual is lonely or isolated in a negative way. The word instead means a chosen state in which an individual has time to reflect internally. This gives an individual time to observe and reflect. The observation can lead to a positive or negative response. This is seen in two contrasting poems: William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” and William Blake’s “London.” In Wordsworth’s poem, his persona is observing “[a] host, of golden daffodils” (Line 4). His persona is initially “lonely” but gains a sense of solitude after seeing these ...view middle of the document...

Wordsworth’s speaker uses descriptive, personifying language when describing the daffodils within nature: “Ten thousand saw I at a glance,/ Tossing their heads in sprightly dance” (11-12). Blake’s distinction from Wordsworth is his use of dark, repetitive language to describe the humans within a city: “In every cry of every man,/ In every infant’s cry of fear,/ In every voice, in every ban,/ The mind-forged manacles I hear” (5-8). A manacle is a metal shackle that fastens someone’s hands or ankles (Merriam-Webster). By calling these manacles “mind-forged,” Blake’s persona reflects on the sounds of humans crying as a representation of the man-made, psychological shackles that constrain them. The contrast between the two poets leave readers with the sense that the industrial city of London is a brutal place when compared to the open natural world as seen in Wordsworth’s poem.
In depicting the superiority of nature, Wordsworth’s persona describes that he “wandered lonely as a cloud/ That floats on high o’er vales and hills” (1). This first line is a simile drawn from nature. In comparing his notion of wandering aimlessly and the image of a cloud, Wordsworth’s persona creates a parallel between the cloud and his own being. Just as a cloud floats separated from the earth’s surface, this persona sees himself as being separated from other humans. With this, the initial definition of solitude is not represented. Wordsworth’s persona appears to be isolated and lonely, which as described above, is a negative feeling. It is not until he observes “a crowd,/ A host, of golden daffodils” (3-4) that he begins to feel the “bliss of solitude” (22). Like a cloud separated from land, the persona is separated from the companionship of people; however, nature (i.e., the daffodils) becomes this persona’s companion. This causes Wordsworth’s persona to reflect on and respond to the daffodils through personification. He explains that they “[flutter] and [dance] in the breeze,” (6) they “[toss] their heads in sprightly dance,” (12) and they “out-[do] the sparkling waves in glee” (14). This personification familiarizes Wordsworth’s persona to the daffodils and to nature. Wordsworth’s persona reflects the way the daffodils make him feel stating, “[a] poet could not but be gay” (15). Along with this, he compares the daffodils to other elements of nature. He calls them “[continuous] as the stars that shine/ And twinkle on the milky way,/ They stretched in never-ending line” (7-9). Blake’s use of simile serves to heighten the scope of what his persona is reflecting on. The daffodils are compared to unearthly symbols like the stars, thus, highlighting how fascinating they are to the persona. It is clear that, here, Wordsworth reveres nature’s innocence and purity – which is in strong contrast to the images of immorality and brutality in Blake’s poem.
In contrast to Wordsworth’s persona, Blake’s persona does not appear to be lonely in separation from society but nor does he...

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