Daffodils and the comfort of memory

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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  • Some days its good to begin with a poem such as this. In Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, the August 22nd entry (there are no page numbers), "The Poetry Prescription," begins with this quote from Robert Haven Schauffler: "Poetry affords us a respite in which we may gather renewed strength for the old struggle to adapt ourselves to reality." As a younger person I was turned off by the old poets our teachers insisted that we read but now I can appreciate "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud." Thanks!

  • In reply to folkloric:

    You're very welcome. I like the idea of "renewed strength for the old struggle," especially today.

  • As another poet said,

    "it is difficult to get the news from poems,
    yet men die miserably every day
    for lack of what is found there."

    William Carlos Williams

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thank you so much. That's beautiful.

  • In these days of cyberspace,
    A fortune is a nerd's worth,
    But tweets or Facebook can't replace
    The daffodils of Wordsworth.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    No, my friend, they can't indeed.
    Well done, and thanks!

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