The comfort of memory may seem a strange topic today, but I can't face this morning without it. I offer you the words which will be helping me, as they have helped me before: the poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth (1770-1850), among the greatest of England's poets.
Thirty-one years ago this week, I was in Wordsworth's home town, Grasmere, England, as part of a tour with my university classmates. Our geography teacher, Peter Speak, made sure that Wordsworth's poems were near the center of our minds (well, mine, anyway) through our visit. I well remember Dr. Speak standing on the gray, cloud-shadowed shore of Lake Grasmere and reciting Wordsworth's poems to us.
But what I don't remember about that trip is ever hearing the end of "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (sometimes called "The Daffodils"). The beautiful descriptions of the beginning were all I had of it -- and, eventually, what I wanted back. I was upset one day, missing my traveling adventures with what I can only call longing, so I looked up this poem.
There was the ending. There, when I needed it, was the comfort of memory.
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"
by William Wordsworth
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.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle in 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
Outdid 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.
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