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‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ is the opening of one of William Wordsworth’s most famous poems. Wordsworth is a poet who is closely associated with the natural world and in particular with the Lake District where he lived for many years. The poem was included in a manuscript of handwritten poems sent to his publishers, Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme in batches between 1806 and 1807. The initial agreement to publish a single volume of Wordworth’s poetry was extended to two volumes hence the title, Poems in Two Volumes.
‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ is believed to have been composed between 1804 and 1807. The poetry manuscript consists of three six-line stanzas and with the exception of one correction (the word ‘host’ in line four appears to have been added) it is a fair copy (i.e. uncorrected) version of the poem. The poems were submitted in batches and at the top of the page Wordsworth wrote a note to the printer about the placement of this particular poem. He asked for the poem to be included in the section ‘Moods of my own mind’ after the poem, ‘The Cock is crowing’.
Interestingly when the poem was published again in 1815 as part of ‘Poems of the Imagination’ Wordsworth made a number of changes. The most striking of these was to add another verse, which was inserted between the first and second stanzas of the 1807 poem. In both versions of the poem Wordsworth reflects on the beauty of the daffodils that grew along the edge of a lake, which may have been Ullswater located between Penrith and Grasmere in the Lake District, an area known to the poet.
Other poems in the manuscript volume had been copied by Wordsworth himself and also by his wife, Mary and his sister-in-law, Sara Hutchinson. This explains why there are examples of different handwriting within the volume. Research into the paper used in the volume showed that many of the pages were originally cut from a single large sheet of paper.
To the Printer(after the Poem (in the set under the title of “Moods of my own mind”) beginning “They
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