March 2 William Wordsworth

March, in English poetry, also inevitably recalls Wordsworth and daffodils. In our January programme I hazarded a simple definition of poetry as “an expression of feeling in musical language” . Wordsworth, who knew what he was talking about, prefaced his ‘Lyrical Ballads’ of 1798 with the following account of the poetic process, as he knew it:

” Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility; the emotion is contemplated, till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually
exist in the mind.” These dry, abstract words are given poetic body and life in his well known lines reflecting the scenery of Esthwaite Lake:

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.



Next: Written in March William Wordsworth