Sunday, April 15, 2012

Poetry Month-Wordsworth's Daffodils

Thanks to my facebook friend, Amy Rhilinger Librarian, for an alert to this from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1802 that William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, happened upon a profusion of daffodils along the banks of the nine-mile-long Ullswater Lake. Dorothy wrote down a detailed description of the daffodils that helped inspire Wordsworth to write the famous poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" five years later. It begins:

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.

and continues:

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 but be 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.

I now have another woman from the past to read about—Dorothy Wordsworth. I'm going to start with The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth: A Life by Frances Wilson. Here's a review by Dwight Garner from the New York Times.

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