When I was a child, one of the poems we learned in school was William Wordsworth’s 1804 ode to daffodils and the power that these bright yellow flowers had to lift up his spirits and fill his heart with joy, presumably after several months of gray winter in England’s Lake District, where he spent many years.
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.
As I child, I did, of course, like daffodils. They were bright yellow, happy flowers. But it took me many years to truly understand why the sight of so many blooming flowers might stir an adult’s heart so much that he might promptly sit down and compose a poem about them. I am not a poet myself, though I do enjoy a good rhyme every now and again. However, the feelings expressed in this poem by one of England’s great Romantic poets are akin to what I feel when I am walking along my local lake. If I were poetically inclined, I would undoubtedly attempt a verse about the jacarandas or bougainvilleas that bloom dramatically in the Southern California spring. Instead, inspired by my own act of “guerilla giving” along Silver Lake yesterday evening, I decided to leave another anonymous gift along my path this evening. There is a bench right at the busiest corner of the lakeside path, which serves as a meeting point and a resting point for walks, runners and the many dog-walkers who use the path. I left a book of Favorite Poems by William Wordsworth on the bench in honor of this poet, whose dancing heart immortalized the spring blooms of another time and place.