Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

“Daffodils” by William Wordsworth

One of the reasons I like this poem, which you can read here , is because it’s lighthearted. So much poetry is dark and deep, so it’s a lovely surprise to find one full of bright colors. It’s almost Wordsworth’s “Lucy in the Sky”, with that same floaty, psychedelic feeling .
Starting things off from the viewpoint of a cloud, the narrator bumps gently to earth amid “ten thousand” daffodils surrounding a lake. And they aren’t just pretty, they are “dancing”, “tossing their heads” and gleeful. Just imagine what a stunning sight that must have been. I’m thrilled when I see a single row of daffodils blooming in someone’s front yard, because I know that the warmth of spring is truly on it’s way after a cold, snowy winter, so it must be truly impressive to see such a mass of them.
Wordsworth compares them to “the stars that shine” and “the sparkling waves” of the lake and these natural snapshots are both vivid and evocative of an idyllic place and certainly conveys a joyful, peaceful moment. It is only afterwards that he realizes how enriched he is by such a lovely interlude. For the poem ends in a surprisingly modern way, with the author using it as his ‘happy place’, flashing back to the sight and his “heart with pleasure fills”. That is the kernel of Romantic poetry, of nature being a balm to the sooty ugliness of the Industrial Revolution, which was well underway in Wordsworth’s time.
Written in 1804 and based on a memory of a walk with his sister Dorothy two years earlier in the Lake District, a scenic area in northern England where they lived. It was one of a number of poems which revisited pleasant incidents of an earlier time with her. In a recent poll, it was found to be the fifth favorite poem in the U.K.
For my own part, I’ve always had a soft spot for this poem, especially after I recognized a reference to it on a Genesis album back in the 1970’s, it was in the first verse of “The Arrival at the Colony of Slippermen” on the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album.
Whatever the reason is that one likes it, the poem remains the perfect encapsulation of springtime, when nature reawakens after the harsh cold and explodes in color.

Jackie reviewed a biography about Dorothy Wordsworthy, which can be found here .

Photo of “Wild Daffodils in Gwen and Vera’s Fields Nature Reserve” from Wye Valley & Dean Forest Tourism Association

2 comments on ““Daffodils” by William Wordsworth

  1. Dena@TheReluctantJaneite
    April 3, 2017

    Love this poem too, it was included in one of the children’s books of poetry, tattered but still cherished. For many years , every spring I send out a poem via email to celebrate the end of winter & it was the first I sent out!

  2. Cynthia's Biblio -Files
    April 3, 2017

    Lovely post. I can imagine Spring in Britain would be longed for after a harsh winter, that poem encapsulates that in a lighthearted way, as you say. Reminds me of David Hockney’s paintings of Yorkshire in Spring. So beautiful.

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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