A host of golden daffodils

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Senior Member

I would like to ask a question about the poem I wandered lonely as a cloud, by William Wordsworth.

More precisely, my question concerns the stress pattern.

Generally speaking, I mean in "normal" language, the main stress in the word daffodils is on the first syllable.

Yet, for metrical reasons, the third syllable should be stressed to. Here is the first stanza. Some syllables are in bold, the poem having being written in iambic pentameters (stressed / unstressed pattern)

I wandered, lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
When, all at once, I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils.

Now, I've been on the net and I've been listening to plenty of recordings of this poem. Regarding the word daffodils, I've noticed that just the first syllable "daff" is stressed, as in "normal language".Because of this, the rhyme with "hills" is lost.

The same applies to the word company, in another stanza:

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:

Here the last syllable "ny" of company should be clearly stressed as to have the word rhyme with glee, but in all the recording I've listened to, it is just the syllable "comp" that is stressed, so, again, the rhyme with company is lost.

My question is: should the syllable "dils" of daffodils, and "ny" of company be clearly stressed as to rhyme with, respectively, hills and glee?

I thank you in advance for your answer. :)

Have a nice day!

Last edited:
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    My answer is "no": the existence of the rhyme is enough.

    (Maybe it's worth adding that both the final syllable of "daffodils" and the final syllable of "company" bear some stress: neither is attenuated to a schwa.)


    Senior Member
    English (American)
    (Maybe it's worth adding that both the final syllable of "daffodils" and the final syllable of "company" bear some stress: neither is attenuated to a schwa.)

    Right. And in a reading of the poem, I think those syllables deserve a secondary stress significant enough to maintain the iambic meter of this poem. This will be enough of a stress so that the rhyme comes through appropriately.


    Senior Member

    No, no no!

    Yes, there is of course metre and rhyme in a conventional English sonnet. But there are subtle variations in both, especially in really good poetry (which Wordsworth usually is, even if Byron was sometimes contemptuous of his efforts).

    All poetry should read comfortably as if it were prose, with the rhythms and rhymes lying "on top of" the enunciation, that is, coming through to the ear across the sense. For example:

    At the round earth's imagin'd corners, blow your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise from death, you numberless infinities of souls, and to your scatter'd bodies go; all whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow, all whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies, despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes shall behold God and never taste death's woe.

    Read this as prose, and the majestic rhythm and rhyme come out naturally.

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