Critical Analysis of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “The Facebook Sonnet”

7 July 2016

Critical Analysis of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “The Facebook Sonnet” Light and happy or dark and lonely, both “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “The Facebook Sonnet” are similar in that both of their themes describe solitude. Still, William Wordsworth and Sherman Alexie use opposite ideas to take this concept in different lights. While Wordsworth describes an enjoyable evening walking through a meadow and speaks of his contentment thinking of this day when he is alone, Alexie describes forlorn wishful nature of an average Joe reminiscing on his past through social media.

In this essay, I will compare and contrast the meaning of both works using the poets’ images and symbols, and will compare how each poet used the notion of Wordsworth’s humans and nature versus Alexie’s humans and machine. When reading “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” I am left with a feeling of delight. Wordsworth used words like “fluttering” “glee” and “bliss” to describe his lonesome walk through a meadow. After leaving the meadow, he thinks of this day when he is sitting at home, engaged in thought, and is still enlightened by the memory of the dancing daffodils.

This is shown with his last stanza, “…when on my couch I lie/ they flash upon (me)/then my heart with pleasure fills”. With his enlightening imagery, Wordsworth describes a pleasurable seclusion. His diction and the symbolism of the daffodils and waves dancing in the wind give the concept a carefree and whimsical perspective. Alexie, conversely, creates an isolated feel to this same theme, giving his sonnet an entirely different meaning.

His poetry made me feel almost shameful of my interaction with social media, with the phrases, “Let’s undervalue and unmend the present. ” and “Let fame and /Shame intertwine. ” (Alexie) Essentially, Alexie is saying while using Facebook, we fail to appreciate the present and try to remain significant in the lives of those who are irrelevant to us presently. The shame comes from the mask society places upon their “profile page”. It is common for users to candy coat every semi-interesting event and masking the truth that their life is, to put frankly, dull.

After reading this poem, I am left with the imagery of a lonely thirty-something sitting in a dark room on her laptop, jealously “creeping” on her well-to-do and recently engaged sorority sisters. Many people use Facebook to stay connected with people of their past or to impress people they once knew, but when it comes down to it, this connection is a forsaken commodity, or so Alexie argues. Alexie used words like “endless” “shame” and “loneliness” to help create this desolated image. It also came to my attention that both poems use the suggestion of both “humans and” and “humans versus”.

In “I Wandered”, Whitworth describes the relationship between man and nature, furthermore describing it as a beautiful thing that brings one joy. I noticed throughout the piece he alters the reality of his work, objectifying himself as a cloud that is wandering alone and also personifying nature in that the daffodils dance and toss their heads in the wind. This furthers the idea in that they are so similar; they can essentially “be each other”. Whitworth clearly thinks the appreciation of nature is helpful to the wellbeing of humanity.

Whereas “The Facebook Sonnet” deals with a more controversial topic of “man versus machine” machine being the domain Facebook. Although this is not said directly, it is implied that Alexie is displeased with what Facebook has become, and with reason. He states, “Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess here at the altar of loneliness” a powerfully closing stanza. This poem deals with the modern issue of how technology and social media is essentially a depressing and attention seeking outlet for those who want to escape from reality.

Studies recently have been made about how Facebook and other social media sites have made society miserable and unsatisfied as a whole; Alexie is simply reiterating this idea and bringing it to the attention of his readers. After studying more of Alexie’s work, it is clear to me that he takes the present as a gift meant to be spent on things and people he loves. Facebook, though initially intended to bring people together, has distance real-life relationships, and that’s exactly what Alexie is trying to bring to the attention of the people.

This is a prime example of how technology is hurting society, with more people using Facebook as a prime source of communication, society is becoming more antisocial in actuality and personal images are being twisted to misrepresent who one actually is. In light of the fact these poems have very different meanings; the similarity is not very hard to miss. Both these poems have the theme of one on their own, whether it is outdoors or indoors, and comparing the two helps to distinguish between the fine line of being alone and being lonely and the authors use of imagery help reveal the meaning behind each poem.

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Critical Analysis of “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “The Facebook Sonnet”. (2016, Jul 14). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from
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