Want A Thriving Reading Experience? Focus On William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’!: Nature as Possessing Life and Consciousness


Daffodils is one of the most beautiful lyrics of William Wordsworth. Wordsworth,  the Nature priest, looked upon Nature as possessing life and consciousness. He believed that nature could feel joy like human beings. So in Daffodils he describes how the daffodils danced with joy—
 “Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”
Daffodils expresses Wordsworth’s delight in the common objects of Nature, when he sees the golden daffodils in the breeze he is filled with great joy—
“A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company.

In fact, Wordsworth is a thoughtful and contemplative poet. He finds pleasure in the recollection of joyful experience of the past.  Thus the sight of the beautiful daffodils not only brings him present enjoyment, it also stores joy in his mind. So when he will feel sad at heart in future, the memory of the sight of golden daffodils will cheer up his spirits. So the host of golden daffodils flashed across the poet’s mind while he lay alone on his couch in ‘vacant or pensive mood’. The poet thus enjoyed the ‘bliss of solitude.’ The recollection of the past experience is a source of joy. In solitary moments, i.e., while one is alone, one can feel happy by suddenly recollecting the joyful experience of the past.
Wordsworth feels an intense delight in the company of Nature. He fully shares in the joy of Nature. Wordsworth writes in a simple style drawing his images from Nature. Thus he says that he ‘wandered lonely, as a cloud’. He compares the continuous line of daffodils to the ‘stars that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way.’ It was a common belief with Wordsworth that memory is a source of great pleasure. He loved to enjoy ‘the lonely rapture of lonely minds.’ He expressed this idea in many poems, e. g., In Yarrow Visited he said—
“I know where’e I go,
Thy genuine image, Yarrow,
Will dwell with me to heighten joy
And cheer my mind in sorrow.”
In Tintern Abbey  he said to his sister Dorothy— “the mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms.
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies.”
“These beauteous forms
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As in a landscape to a blind man’s eye
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet
Felt in the blood and felt along the heart” when the fretful stir’
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft in spirit have I turned to thee
o sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods”.
It is interesting to contrast Wordsworths poem Daffodils with the two poems of Robert Herrick, a seventeenth century poet, on daffodils. In both the poems Herrick has dwelt on the transitoriness of the flower— “Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon.”
But Wordsworth has dwelt on the joy of the flowers: The former has a  melancholy note, but the latter has a joyous note.

Hutton says “You all know the wonderful buoyancy of that poem on the daffodils—the reticent passion with which the poet’s delight is expressed, not by dwelling on feeling, but by selecting as a fit comparison to that ‘crowd’ and ‘host’ of golden daffodils. The impression produced on the eye by the continuousness of the stars that shine and sparkle in the Milky Way, the effect of wind, and exultation which the wind produces in the lines— “Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance;”
and in the rivalry suggested between them and waves—
“The waves beside them danced but they
Outdid he sparkling waves in glee.”
You all know the exquisite simplicity of the conclusion when the poet tells us that as often as they recur to his mind, and
“—flash upon that inwards eye
‘Which is the bliss of solitude.”
His heart with pleasure fills, and ‘dances with the daffodils’. The great beauty of that poem is its wonderful buoyancy, it’s pure objective way of conveying that buoyancy  and the extraordinary vividness with which the lonely rapture of lonely minds’ is stamped upon the whole poem.”

The poet could not but be merry, in the company of these flowers. He looked at them with fixed eyes. The sight of the beautiful daffodils filled the poet’s mind with great delight. The delight was not for the moment only, but it was to be stored up as wealth. When the poet lay down on his couch in an idle or sordid mood, this host of golden daffodils suddenly gleamed upon his mind’s eye, filled him with intense joy.
(N. B. Wordsworth himself had the following note: “The subject of these stanzas on the joyous wind-tossed daffodils nodding their golden heads besides the dancing and foaming waves of Ullswater is rather an elementary feeling and simple impression.”)


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