‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ and ‘The Preservation of Flowers’: two notable poems, two very different styles of writing. This essay will look at their contrasts and similarities, from relevant formal aspects, to the deeper meanings hidden between the lines. We will examine both writers use of rhyme scheme, sound patterning, word choice, figurative language and punctuation. It will also touch a little on the backgrounds of the writers themselves and their inspirations, with the intention of gaining a greater understanding of both texts.
The structure and form of both poems is evidently dissimilar. Wordsworth’s lyric contains four stanzas of six lines each, and follows a clear rhyme ...view middle of the document...
Wordsworth is careful not to use any language, contrary to the natural imagery he seeks to create. Bird on the other hand, is not limited by these boundaries, due in part, to the modern, inner-city setting of her verse. Use of the terms ‘cab firm’ and ‘chicken shop’1 are testament to this, as they are not usually regarded as traditional, poetic, subject matter. Furniss and Bath explain thus - ‘Our received ideas about poetry suggest that flowers and birds are inherently more poetic subjects than bathroom scales or tax problems.’ (Or in this case ‘cab firms’ and ‘chicken shops’1) (Furniss and Bath 1996, P.19)
Seemingly, the similarity most discernible is the fact that both poems use flowers as subject matter. Their methods and meanings however, are contrasting for various reasons. Wordsworth’s is a very 'personal' poem, typical of the Romantic style being championed at the time by himself, and other Romantics such as Keats or Byron. ‘It is characterized by the presence of personal pronouns 'I,' 'me,' and 'my.’ (Internet1). This expression of solitude is again re-enforced with the simile ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,’ used not only in the first line, but as the title of the poem itself. Arguably this suggests that Wordsworth wants us to grasp the emotional and spiritual state that results in man being alone with nature. We find evidence of this when looking at the story behind the poem. It was composed in 1804, two years after he saw the flowers, while walking by Ullswater on a stormy day with his sister Dorothy. ‘His inspiration for the poem came from an account written by Dorothy.’(Internet2) This shows that the original experience was not a solitary one, and again suggests that he intentionally uses a solitary theme, most likely: to better impart his romantic notions about poetry and the natural world.
In stark contrast, ‘The Preservation of Flowers’ holds an altogether different meaning.
Unlike Wordsworth’s elucidation of nature’s impact on the human condition, Bird’s poem (by her own account) is an attempt to encapsulate life’s ‘fleeting pleasures’ -
‘a bunch of flowers, a conversation with a stranger - and the ambiguous impossibilities of trying to preserve them.’ (Personal Correspondence) It is based on an actual flower stall in London, run by a ‘chatty trader’, with a gift for charming the customers with a ‘bit of patter.’ She alludes that his flowers are so beautiful, that-
‘Those who used to hurry/ are slowed.’7, 8
Unlike Wordsworth’s use of personal language, which causes you to feel his emotions and see his view of the world, ‘The Preservation of Flowers’ has no personal pronouns. Instead the use of third-person, subjective pronouns are used to define the poems perspective. This alters the viewpoint of the reader in a way that; rather than being an active part in the proceedings, you feel more like: a fly on the wall, peering into the everyday lives of the people involved. Moreover: Bird’s poem contains dialog between...