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Dorothy Wordsworth on daffodils

Poet William Wordsworth's sister Dorothy was with him through joys and sorrows - and on many of the occasions that inspired his poetry. Here, on April 15, 1802, she confides to her journal a British scene that should sound familiar to all the generations whose hearts have been lifted by her brother's poem on the subject.

It was a threatening, misty morning, but mild. We set off after dinner from Eusemere. . . .

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The wind seized our breath. The Lake was rough. There was a Boat by itself floating in the middle of the Bay below Water Millock. We rested again in the Water Millock Lane. . . .

When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water-side. We fancied that the lake had floated the seeds ashore, and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and yet more; and at last, under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road.

I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and about them; some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness; and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them.

There was here and there a little knot, and a few stragglers a few yards higher up; but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity, unity, and life of that one busy highway.

Daffodils I wander'd lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of dancing 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 stretch'd 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.

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