Back in the dreadful heat of summer I promised that I would never complain about cold this winter. And mostly I haven’t. I have enjoyed being cold! I love the snow and I hope we get some more. I am in no way ready for winter to end.
However, I do hate grey, depressing days like this one. It’s hard for me to concentrate or really to get anything accomplished at all when the view from my office window is so bleak. So I felt like indulging in a little springtime fantasy and sharing my very favorite poem with you:
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 on 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
Out-did 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.
I have so many pleasurable associations with this particular poem, which I am sure is very familiar to my readers. In my freshman year at Georgetown University, I participated in a class called the Liberal Arts Seminar, a team-taught, multi-disciplinary, life-absorbing experience that met for nine hours a week for both semesters. Our English professor was Dr. Paul F. Betz, a pre-eminent Wordsworth scholar. His enthusiasm for Wordsworth and William Blake was contagious. Daffodils have always been my favorite flower and I quickly memorized this poem. One day I called home and started quoting the poem to my eight-year-old sister–only to have her join in, as she had just memorized it too!
As part of her Beautification Campaign, Lady Bird Johnson caused thousands of daffodils to be planted in our nation’s capital. These delighted me on the long walks to the monuments that my roommate and I used to take every springtime. Today, a framed photograph of the Lincoln Memorial with daffodils in the foreground hangs on my dining room wall next to a picture of Georgetown. [edit: not anymore. sigh.]
When I had my first house I determined to make my own daffodil field. I planted more and more each year with the plan of eventually covering the whole hillside. We moved, but the daffodils are still there. Oftentimes, in the Smokies, patches of daffodils are the only remaining indications of homesites. The cabins are long gone, but the bulbs continue to thrive, mute reminders of the women who once tended house and garden there.