Treasures: Hope, Promise, William Wordsworth, and “Daffodils”

“To look ahead … is to look back …
At those things we treasure most …
In the hope to see them again …”
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Wow! That’s a good one!
Perhaps at no time is this more true than at this period of transition, which we call Spring.
Perhaps there is no time of year, except, perhaps, at a special holiday or gathering, at which these words are more true.

What is lovelier than a field of daffodils? Or … just a few?
As the stems push upward through the earth, doesn’t just the sight of their potential flowering push our spirits upward … When I think back to when I was growing up, it was always the daffodils which were the official “trumpets” of Springs arrival … which makes their “trumpet-looking” flower even more of a symbol, a herald, of things to come.

In the South, and other parts of the country, these beautiful arrivals are also called “Jonquils.”
I just learned, from asking around the web, that jonquils are a type of daffodil, so it is ok to call them by either name. I always, always have associated jonquils/daffodils with Easter, as I can never remember a time, growing up and later living in the South, when daffodils were not in bloom at Easter.

Of course, that has changed upon moving up North, and, especially this year. Among the coldest Winters on record (this is shared by a lot of places), coupled with an early Easter, there aren’t many flowers … ok … any flowers, in bloom here … In fact, everything that was visible yesterday (our yards, driveways, the roads) are now covered in snow, with more to come … but … the promise remains … the real, true hope remains … that, soon, the daffodils will arrive … and so will the rest of what they “usher in.”

Thank you, Jesus!

Right now, I’d like to “never mind!” that Easter has now passed, we are in the middle of a snowstorm, with more snow expected tonight … I saw several Robins in the yard this morning … I can at least see the top of the big rose bush in the back yard .. and … all over … here and there … daffodils are waiting … with patience I wish we had … to Spring forth and announce that our hope has been well founded …

One of the most famous poems about “Daffodils” was by William Wordsworth. What a great name! Here’s a brief biography of William Wordsworth … you will see again, how the greatest of writers have experienced the greatest of pain … and then, we’ll share the poem:

William Wordsworth

On April 7 (Wow! As of this writing, that is tomorrow), 1770, William Wordsworth was born in England. Wordsworth’s mother died when he was only eight years old—this experience would shape much of his later work. Wordsworth attended Hawkshead Grammar School, where his love of poetry was firmly established and, it is believed, he made his first attempts at verse. While he was at Hawkshead, Wordsworth’s father died, leaving him and his four siblings orphans.

After Hawkshead, Wordsworth studied at St. John’s College in Cambridge, and before his final semester, he set out on a walking tour of Europe, an experience that influenced both his poetry and his political sensibilities. While touring Europe, Wordsworth came into contact with the French Revolution. This experience, as well as a subsequent period living in France, brought about Wordsworth’s interest and sympathy for the life, troubles, and speech of the “common man.”

These issues proved to be of the utmost importance to Wordsworth’s work. William Wordsworth’s earliest poetry was published in 1793 in the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. In 1802, he returned to France, where he married Mary Hutchinson, a childhood friend, and they had five children together. In 1812, while living in Grasmere, two of their children—Catherine and John—died.

Wordsworth’s most famous work, The Prelude (1850), is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of English romanticism. The poem, revised numerous times, chronicles the spiritual life of the poet and marks the birth of a new genre of poetry. Although Wordsworth worked on The Prelude throughout his life, the poem was published posthumously.

William Wordsworth spent his final years settled at Rydal Mount in England, traveling and continuing his outdoor excursions. Devastated by the death of his daughter, Dora, in 1847, Wordsworth seemingly lost his will to compose poems. William Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount on April 23, 1850, leaving his wife Mary to publish The Prelude three months later.

The Daffodils
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.
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