03 April 2008

daffodils with a definite attitude

There are times during the year when we get tired of making the trek back and forth between New York City and Washington County. It’s true. In the middle of winter, we leave the city in darkness and return in darkness, and it’s dark, dark, dark the whole weekend long. So dark that nothing seems more appealing than settling in for a long nap every afternoon.

Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

But now . . . now is the glory time to make the trek between two growing zones (Zone 6/7 in NYC and Zone 5 in Washington County). We actually get to have two springs. When crocuses are just beginning to poke their noses into the air upstate, the daffodils are blooming in the city. So instead of three weeks of daffodils we get six: three here and three at the house.

Speaking of which, on my way to the subway this morning I passed a fenced-off, private garden near St. Vincent’s Hospital and noticed a tremendous number of daffodils in bloom. All sunny yellow, all nodding in the breeze, like Wordsworth’s (only I wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud, and these daffodils were fluttering and dancing next to a subway grate).

Maybe that explains why they looked, well, a little standoffish or sulky, or maybe they were just waking up. They didn’t give me the time of day, though, that’s for sure. No smiles for the camera. Wouldn’t wave hello. Well, you be the judge. Here they are (when you get where you’re going, make sure you enlarge the picture with a click on it).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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 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 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.

—William Wordsworth (1770–1850)


  1. Hello

    Came visiting from Blotanical.

    The first verse of 'Daffodils' is the one that is mostly quoted - but it is the last that I find most affecting.

    Esther Montgomery

  2. It's a great poem. What I love is how Wordsworth somehow manages to communicate the bracing chilliness of a spring day, with all those daffodils nodding around in the breeze. And the contrast between that and a snooze in front of a warm fire (which is how I interpret the last stanza) is wonderful.