Once voted the UK’s 5th most popular poem of all time in a Radio 4 poll, Daffodils, also known as I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, is Wordsworth’s best known poem and one of the Lake District Tourist Board’s favourite plants. It was first published in 1807 in Poems in Two Volumes, with a few of its words revised in 1815. The daffodils that inspired the poem were seen by Wordsworth on a walk with his sister around Glencoyne Bay at Ullswater. The poem was inspired by his sister’s, Dorothy Wordsworth (1771 – 1855), journal entry, in which she describes her own feelings of happening upon the daffodils: “We saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. They 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 wheeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing.“. It is thought that the daffodils they would have seen were our only wild native species, Narcissus pseudonarcissus. Today, with people planting cultivated varieties next to native species, there is concern that this is changing in some areas.
Daffodils by William Wordsworth
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.