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"
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty…
—William Shakespeare, "The Winter's Tale"
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"
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"