Monday, 27 February 2012


This item is in reply to the blogger Weaver of Grass's comment on my comment on her blog regarding William Wordsworth's famous phrase: I wandered lonely as a cloud.

I said on Weaver's blog that Lakeland clouds are not in the habit of wandering about in the lonely romantic fashion beloved by Wordsworth. This is because they invariable come in on the Atlantic westerlies, one chasing the other. Endless fluffy white lines of them. Occasional showers.

The clouds are driven over and through the Lakeland mountains and valleys when the wind is strong and when it is slack they turn grey and gather together like sheep in a field on a rainy day. Then comes the deluge. That's the general pattern. Other times a grey front, one massive cloud, can arrive from Ireland and hang around for days.

The rainiest spot in England is not far from Wordsworth's Lakeland home nor for that matter from Ullswater, the place where he was supposedly inspired to write the poem 'Daffodils'.

And even if, as I concede, during the heat of summer there can be on occasion a stray cloud about in the Lakeland sky it would either quickly dissipate or alternatively settle down and rest on a mountain peak to await its companions. It wouldn't be wandering hither and thither like a lonely poet.

Thunder clouds rarely come alone. They build within sight of each other.

My point is that we should always read so-called classic poems as if we are reading them for the first time and we should challenge the metaphors if we believe they are lazy.

Incidentally there are several Wordsworthian entries to be found on this blog. Entering his name should find them springing up like daffodils in March.


  1. That has shattered my concept of what I thought was a super simile - I was imagining this lovely little cloud floating on high o'er vales and hills. I do agree though in the main about 'lazy' similes and metaphors - a good one (I think Donne had some wonderful ones) stays with one forever.
    Still don't believe the cow story though - I think it is too Pythonesque.

  2. OK, maybe I was a bit too hard on the Lakeland bard - but I feel he was, being lazy, this poem. I have lately wandered along the shore of Ullswater and tried to imagined that he saw the lonely wandering cloud float o'er the great Helvellyn massif . . .

  3. I'm with you on this. Lonely as a cloud is a bit lame. Lonely as a clown fits and would work better.

  4. Yes. Brilliant idea Dominic!

    I see it all now, the red nosed poet laureate WW as a clown with a bundle o' daffs in lapel. Dorothy baking the bread in Wordsworth Cottage. A border collie scratching for fleas. John Peel blowing his horn.


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