The poem is written in what is called iambic tetrameter. An iamb is a poetic foot in which an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. (A foot, in English poetic meter, consists of two or three syllables, either one strongly stressed syllable and one lightly stressed syllable, or one strong stress and two lighter ones.) The iamb is the most common foot in English poetry. Almost all the lines in this poem are iambic. However, just for variety, the poet does vary the meter in certain places.
At the beginning of stanza 1, line 6, the poet substitutes a dactylic foot for the initial iamb, in the word Fluttering. A dactylic foot consists of a strongly stressed syllable followed by two lightly stressed syllables. In stanza 2, at the beginning of line 11, the poet substitutes a spondee (two strong stresses) for the iamb. This has the effect of emphasizing the sheer number of daffodils that he saw, since the stress falling on the first syllable as well as the second makes that foot stand out against the expected iambic meter. This is particularly noticeable when the poem is read aloud, because what we hear (the spondee) is different from what we expect (the iamb). A similar variation occurs in the following line (the last line of stanza 2), in which instead of an iamb the poet uses a trochee, a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (the opposite of an iamb).
The poet makes use of a regular rhyme scheme throughout the poem. The first line of each stanza rhymes with the third. The second line rhymes with the fourth, and then the last two lines rhyme with each other to form a concluding couplet to each stanza. The words used in the rhymes are mostly simple, consisting of one syllable. The use of rhyme not only supplies an easily identifiable sense of order and structure to the poem but adds pleasure to the reader’s experience of it.
Personification is a poetic technique in which human emotions and feelings are attributed to inanimate objects. For example, the poet states that he is ‘‘as lonely as a cloud,’’ which is a form of personification by use of a simile (a comparison of two apparently unlike things in a way that brings out the similarity between them). The poet compares his own loneliness to the loneliness of a single cloud in the sky. A more extended use of personification occurs in the descriptions of the daffodils. The poet describes them as a ‘‘crowd,’’ which is a term usually applied to people. Further, the daffodils are described as dancing, moving their heads around almost as if they were human. Dance, however, is a human invention, proceeding according to measured steps. The fact that the daffodils are presented in this light personifies them by attributing to them a human activity. The personification continues when the daffodils are described as gleeful. Glee, which means joy, is a human emotion; presumably, daffodils do not experience joy, and certainly not in the sense that humans do, but the poet is prepared to attribute such joy to them because that is how it seems to him. The personification also has the effect of creating a subtle link, through the spirit of joy, between humans and the natural world.
Alliteration refers to the repetition of initial consonants. Wordsworth does not make much use of alliteration in this poem, but when he does it is with great effect. It occurs in the final line, the repetition of the d sound in dances and daffodils. The word dance is a key one in the poem, since it or a variant appears in every stanza. In the first three stanzas, it refers to the daffodils only; in the final line of the last stanza, it refers both to the daffodils and to the heart of the poet. The alliteration gives a pleasing sense of resolution to the poem, suggesting the connection between man and nature that is the theme of the poem.
Sara Constantakis (Editor), Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry, William Wordsworth, Volume 33, published by Gale-Cengage Learning, 2010