Two Wordsworths and Daffodils #Poetry #Diary #BriFri
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Last week, I took a virtual visit to Loughcrew Cairns in Ireland to see the solar alignment with the spring equinox. Tina reviewed two books, A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher and The Dilemma by B. A. Paris.
Daffodils are blooming in my yard and neighborhood. They inspired me to do three things: read the poem that William Wordsworth wrote about daffodils, read the journal entry that Dorothy Wordsworth wrote about the day that led to that poem, and visit Shaw Nature Reserve to see their daffodils.
Here’s the poem by William Wordsworth, English Romantic poet:
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;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
There are numerous examples of William relying on his sister’s skills as a diarist for his poems. In this case, she recorded the day, April 15, 1802, that the two of them encountered daffodils by one of the lakes in the Lake District of England.
When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up – But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway – We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the Sea.
The daffodils at Shaw Nature Reserve were planted near a lake, so I was inspired to approximate something like what William and Dorothy saw 218 years ago.
Are you dancing with daffodils this spring?
How I love daffodils. My grandmother was of Welsh descendants & we always planted daffodils in her yard as well as our home borders around the house. This was in Pennsylvania & the flowers would never disappoint in Spring time.
In grade school we had to memorize that poem! Daffs always make me think of my childhood because of that poem
I put up your photo of the daffodils as my desktop background just now so I can enjoy it all day (or maybe all week). It’s beautiful.
The poem brought me back to school days where poetry was very much part of the curriculum. I doubt it is today in this part of the world anyway.
I love daffodils (tulips don’t do well here anyway). I even like the poem OK, though I’m not really a Wordsworth person.
I have a novel set in Sussex this week!
It’s wonderful how this poem has endured. This year I found the following poem by Gillian Clarke, who was National Poet of Wales, which I thought is a lovely compliment to it, and which you may also like. St David is Wales’ patron saint, and St David’s Day is March 1st.
MIRACLE ON ST DAVID’S DAY Gillian Clarke
An afternoon yellow and open-mouthed
with daffodils. The sun treads the path
among cedars and enormous oaks.
It might be a country house, guests strolling,
the rumps of gardeners between nursery shrubs.
I am reading poetry to the insane.
An old woman, interrupting, offers
as many buckets of coals as I need.
A beautiful chestnut-haired boy listens
entirely absorbed. A schizophrenic
on a good day, they tell me later.
In a cage of first March sun a woman
sits not listening, not seeing, not feeling.
In her neat clothes, the woman is absent.
A big mild man is tenderly led
to his chair. He has never spoken.
His labourer’s hands on his knees, he rocks
gently to the rhythms of the poems.
I read to their presences, absences,
to the big, dumb labouring man as he rocks.
He is suddenly standing, silently,
huge and mild, but I feel afraid. Like slow
movement of spring water or the first bird
of the year in the breaking darkness,
the labourer’s voice recites ‘The Daffodils’.
The nurses are frozen, alert; the patients
seem to listen. He is hoarse but word-perfect.
Outside the daffodils are still as wax,
a thousand, ten thousand, their syllables
unspoken, their creams and yellows still.
Forty years ago, in a Valleys school,
the class recited poetry by rote.
Since the dumbness of misery fell
he has remembered there was a music
of speech and that once he had something to say.
When he’s done, before the applause, we observe
the flowers’ silence. A thrush sings
and the daffodils are aflame.
I do like that! Thank you.
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You know, I am studying a degree in English Literature at the moment, and this post wouldn’t have been appreciated by me before, but it is now, since I’m in the midst of the Romantic period!
I love the simplicity of the poem, the joy of encountering such amount of flowers, which makes people simply happy.
Regarding Dorothy, the Norton Anthology of English Literature mentions her, but nothing about her diaries as a source of inspiration for William, so thank you for bringing the excerpt.