William Wordsworth’s poem, Daffodils, is one of the most famous poems in the English language. Many generations of school children have learnt the poem.
It begins- “I wandered lonely as a Cloud, That floats on high o’er Vale and Hill, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils”. Many only know the first verse, but the whole poem is beautiful and evocative.
“Daffodils” was composed in 1804, two years after Wordsworth saw the flowers while walking by Ullswater, in the English Lake District, on a stormy day with Dorothy, his sister. His inspiration for the poem came from an account written by Dorothy in her Grasmere Journals.
Dorothy and William Wordsworth were living at the time in Grasmere, at Dove Cottage. Dove Cottage, managed with love and care by the Wordsworth Trust, is a magnet for lovers of Wordsworth.The guides there are excellent, making a visit well worthwhile. You can also visit the Wordsworth museum, which hosts special exhibitions and is a mine of information on the life and times of Wordsworth.
In her journal entry for 15 April 1802 Dorothy describes how the daffodils ‘tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake.’Her brother, William, was entranced by this description. Wordsworth published his poem, ” I wandered lonely as a Cloud,”, in 1807.He later altered it, and his second version,of the poems, Daffodils, by William Wordsworth published in 1815, is the one widely known today.
The daffodils that William and Dorothy saw were the small, wild ones that grow in many places in the Lake District. There are lots of places where you can still see these beautiful little flowers- in fact I’m lucky enough to have a mass of them in my garden. I live at a house called White Moss House, which William Wordsworth bought for his son. It is just 1 mile from Dove Cottage, and the poet knew White Moss well, stopping to rest in the porch on his daily walks.
Visitors to the Lake District in spring love to see the daffodils, and there are masses of them in every field and hedgerow. In his later years, Wordsworth lived in a lovely house, Rydal Mount, just 2 miles from Grasmere. The field next to the house is called “Dora’s Field”, and there you can see a mass of these tiny flowers. Dora was the poet’s beloved daughter, and he had planned to build a house for the in the little field. It was never built, and as the land is owned by the National Trust, visitors are free to wander around this pretty place.
You really need to see photographs to appreciate the Wordsworth Daffodils, and if you follow the link below you will be able to see some of my collection.
My favorite verse of the poem, Daffodils, is the last verse-
“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…”
I love Wordsworth’s phrase “the bliss of solitude”. I too love to be alone and reflect- it is something that we all should find a space for in this hectic modern world.