'What I do is me: for that I came.' G M Hopkins

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not so Famous

Spring at Milecross

Spring has sprung, the grass has ris;
I wonder where the birdies is?

I can hear my father’s up-north accent intoning these lines across the decades as I contemplate the bursting forth of spring. On St David’s Day I took a bunch of gorgeous daffs into school and gave my Year 11 class copies of Wordsworth’s ‘The Daffodils’ as an unseen poem. Most of them got into the romantic spirit of the verse - one boy summed it up with, ‘He goes for a walk, sees lots of daffodils and falls in love with them.’ Quite. Another wrote sincerely about Wordsworth’s confusion regarding his sexuality - ‘a poet could not but be gay in such a jocund company’!

Yet on that lovely afternoon in 1802 when William went for a ramble, it wasn’t he who waxed lyrical about nature’s beauty. It was his sister, Dorothy, who wrote in her journal about ‘a long belt’ of flowers that they had happened upon in the woods beyond Gowbarrow Park, near Ellsmere in the Lake District.

I never saw daffodils so beautiful that 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 dancing, ever changing.

Apparently it was only after the death of their brother that William felt in need of comfort ‘in vacant or in pensive mood’ and two years after that famous walk he turned to Dorothy’s scribbles as inspiration for an expression of the consolation to be found in nature. So why then did Dorothy, who clearly had her own way with words, not write the poem herself?  Perhaps she was too busy. This idea appealed to Lynn Peters whose poem below I heard on the radio this week. So here’s a chuckle to celebrate the end of winter!

Why Dorothy Wordsworth is not as famous as her brother
"I wandered lonely as a...
They're in the top drawer, William,
Under your socks -
I wandered lonely as a -
No not that drawer, the top one.
I wandered by myself -
Well wear the ones you can find.
No, don't get overwrought my dear, I'm coming.

"I wandered lonely as a -
Lonely as a cloud when -
Soft-boiled egg, yes my dear,
As usual, three minutes -
As a cloud which floats -
Look, I said I'll cook it,
Just hold on will you -
All right, I'm coming.

"One day I was out for a walk
When I saw this flock -
It can't be too hard, it had three minutes.
Well put some butter in it. -
This host of golden daffodils
As I was out for a stroll one -
"Oh you fancy a stroll, do you?
Yes all right, William, I'm coming.

It's on the peg. Under your hat.
I'll bring my pad, shall I, in case
You want to jot something down?"