Monday, March 19, 2012


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…

William Wordsworth, "The Daffodils"

I think there's a literary rule somewhere that says it's obligatory to begin any piece on daffodils with the above quote from Wordsworth. Indeed, these first few lines from one of the English's language's finest nature-cognizant lyrical poets, are counted among his best-known works, and have been quoted for generations around the globe. 

A couple of posts back I mentioned that the daffodils are starting to bloom around the cottage. Friend and frequent commenter, Astra (AfromTO) said she'd like to see some daffodil shots to better put her in a spring mood. I agreed to deliver. I have lots of daffodils just starting to bloom, with many more to come, in a dozen different sizes and colors, since every autumn I plant a few hundred additional bulbs. 

Yet while the beloved old bard of the Lake District is not the only one to have written about daffodils, an astonishing number of poems by other well-known poets employ these lovely spring flowers as a symbol of loss, sadness, heartbreak, death. After reading a dozen or two of these depressing works, your first impulse might be to dash outside and rip every flower and bulb from the earth, fling them into the trash, and replace each with some alternate object at least as cheery as a lump of coal. I did consider scrapping the quotes notion. Then I remembered that a poet's job is to be introspective which, given the somber nature of much of life's view, should probably cause you expect many of their subsequent literary results  to be gloomy, desolate, haunted. Truth is a tough mistress, and it take an unusually unquenchable and indomitable spirit to not not wallow in the darkness and mess whenever you finally put pen to paper.

Let the poets deal with the bleak and somber, the heartbreaking and melancholy, the dire, dismal, and doleful. I trust the photos show that I'm of the glass half-full perspective—the bubbly, cheery, can't-keep-me-down-for-long school who delights in the vernal beauty of these lovely flowers. I tend to agree with A. A. Miline: "A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside." 

Daffodils shout spring…and spring is my favorite time of year. 

When a daffodil I see,
Hanging down his head towards me,
Guess I may what I must be:
First, I shall decline my head;
Secondly, I shall be dead;
Lastly, safely buried.

Robert Herrick, "Divination By A Daffodil"

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer's rain;
Or as the pearls of morning's dew,
Ne'er to be found again.

Robert Herrick
, "To Daffodils"

What matter if the sun be lost?
What matter though the sky be gray?
There's joy enough about the house,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.

There's news of swallows on the air,
There's word of April on the way,
They're calling flowers within the street,
And Daffodil comes home to-day.

O who would care what fate may bring,
Or what the years may take away!
There's life enough within the hour,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.

Bliss Carman, "Daffodil's Return"

That come before the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of March with beauty…

William Shakespeare, "The Winter's Tale" 

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, 
and quiet breathing.…Such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make…

——John Keats,"The Necessity of Poetry"

in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remember how...

e.e. cummings, "in time of daffodils"

Then the face of night is fair in the dewy downs 
And the shining daffodil dies.

Lord Alfred Tennyson, "Maud"

O Love-star of the unbeloved March, 
When cold and shrill, 
Forth flows beneath a low, dim-lighted arch 
The wind that beats sharp crag and barren hill, 
And keeps unfilmed the lately torpid rill! 

Sir Aubrey de Vere, "Ode to the Daffodil"

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer's myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being...

Amy Lowell, "To an Early Daffodil" 
What ye have been ye still shall be 
When we are dust the dust among, 
O yellow flowers! 

——Henry Austin Dobson, "To Daffodils"

There is a tiny yellow daffodil,
The butterfly can see it from afar,
Although one summer evening's dew could fill
Its little cup twice over, ere the star
Had called the lazy shepherd to his fold,
And be no prodigal.

Oscar Wilde, "The Burden of Stys"

The daffodil is our doorside queen;
She pushes upward the sword already,
To spot with sunshine the early green.

——William Cullen Bryant, "An Invitation to the Country"
It is daffodil time, so the robins all cry, 
For the sun's a big daffodil up in the sky, 
And when down the midnight the owl calls "to-whoo!"
Why, then the round moon is a daffodil too; 
Now sheer to the bough-tops the sap starts to climb, 
So, merry my masters, it's daffodil time.

 ——Clinton Scollard, "Daffodil Time"


AfromTO said...

Hallelujah-My wish was for one photo-you presented a feast for the eyes-I love how the first daffodil is hugging its mate with its petals(1st-ph)-your 2nd ph is absolutely stunning and could grace many a wall-that is art. As for death and daffodils-many things of great beauty are fleeting maybe so we can appreciate them more in that moment. So much work on your side-Thank you so much for lifting my spirits today.

The Weaver of Grass said...

You have chosen some lovely daffodil poems Grizz and some lovely photos to go with them. I do agree with you that nothing shouts Spring quite as loudly as the daffodil.

Grizz………… said...


I always try and keep my promises—and to exceed expectations. :-)

Actually, I went out and shot a several additional photos right after your comment. Then I waited because a few different daffodils were about to pop and I wanted a bit of variety. And as it turned out, none of the earlier ones got included; all the shots in the post are from the last two or three days, including a couple this morning.

I'm really glad you liked them. Hope they lifted your day.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you. How can anyone not love daffodils—or not see them as a cornerstone symbol of spring? Truthfully, the quotes were harder to come by than the photos…all I really had to do, photographically, was point and shoot.

Robin said...

Well, I guess that explains it.

My favorite spring flower is the regular, large, yellow daff. There is just something so simple about it. Tulips are arrogant posers that can be beaten down by a short rain. I love Hyacinths, but they fall from their own weight. Daffs laugh in the face of most anything.

Growing up, my mother rented a little stone house on Route 27 (the main route to Florida at the time) in a small town in Kentucky. It came with a small, old, private cemetery. Every spring, that little area was nothing but bobbing yellow joy. At least, that's how I saw it.... but now I know someone must have been planting swaths of grief.

I guess it's all in how you see it.....

Thanks for yet another lesson.

Rowan said...

Some wonderful photographs. The daffodils are beginning to flower in my garden too though I have nowhere near as many as you do:) I like the poem by Robert Herrick, I haven't come across it before. The Shakespeare and John Clare quotes may well be appearing on my blog soon too:) The line from A Winter's Tale is a favourite of mine.

Grizz………… said...


Ahh, good old R-27, I know it well, though better as a kid (pre I-75) when we often went that way as far as Paris, before heading off to the east and the mountains. Had a cheeseburger in Cynthiana not too long ago, in fact.

You know, I'm not so sure your initial take on those graveyard daffodils wasn't right. I never picked up on any hint that spring daffodils were planted for any reason other than their sheer beauty, early blooms, and the joy provided. And I think I would have give the way Mom and Dad were about flowers—wild or tame.

I expect, in spite of the maudlin scribblings from the hoary poets, that the folks who laid to rest those in that little family plot planted daffodils because they knew they could count on them for color and beauty around Decoration Day —which, remember, in those times often came earlier, or at least on different dates, than our current Memorial Day. Even today, in may parts of the Appalachian South, Decoration Day's date is set by a local community or church, and they're often staggered over several weekends (Sunday usually being the main day) throughout a small region so's folks can bring their flowers and pay proper respect without having to run every which way during just one day.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you. I do enjoy my daffodils, though I wish I had more varieties, especially in white and pale cream shades. But every fall I stick more bulbs in the ground, which always feels like I'm making something of a covenant with the coming spring. I like that.

The Shakespeare quote is one that ought to be in every gardener's daybook.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, what gorgeous daffodils, and far better to joyfully shout spring along with them. Let's put all melancholy aside with the winter.

You're right — it's de rigueur to quote from that Wordsworth poem at this time of year. If you don't you risk being arrested by the Blog Police. (They're the same people who insist you blog about Dickens at Christmas, force you to reveal to the world your resolutions at New Year, and inscribe in Blog Law that you are required to post photos of your home-made jam in the autumn!)

Grizz………… said...


Absolutely—no more gloom and woebegone mutterings. Spring is here! Hooray!

And you have made my day. Though I succumbed to the Wordsworth quote, it was not out of fear of reprisal by the Blog Police…rather because my copy of the delightful "Wordsworth's Flowers," by Stanley Finch, was (and still is) on the desktop, inches from the keyboard, with the lovely cover illustration by Muriel Harrison to remind me. The fact is, my favorite stanza in that poem, which I didn't quote, are the final lines:

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.

But, I am proud to report—as one who takes considerable pleasure at thumbing his nose at the establishment, bucking the norm in fashion and fad, and striving always to swim upstream—I have never blogged about Dickens at Christmas, revealed to the world my New Year's resolutions, or bragged photographically of my homemade jam! (I probably would do this IF I'd made jam, but only because I wanted to brag, not because of any sniping watchdog powers.)

Thank God I'm not mellowing with age!

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ - your photos are so beautiful and beautifully blended with poems for each. I feel like I have been at a nature's art show and a poet's delight. The colors and words give me such joy, provide such levity, promise me Spring and I am humbled and hopeful. "thank you".....have you any idea of the beauty and hope you bring to other by your shared gifts here.....
Loving you in Spring and always

Grizz………… said...


I'm glad you liked the post. I was trying to present a nice blend of flower photos and poems. Daffodils are just so pretty—and so entwined with spring.

BTW, thank Skipp again for his recipe; it turned out great.

giggles said...

Grizz………… said...


I'm going to assume that was a pleasure-reflecting "oh, my.…"