Wordsworth's Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a Cloud . . .

Gifts inspired by Wordsworth

Wordsworth's Lake District Calendar 2016

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Wild daffodils - Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Wild daffodils in Dove Cottage garden

Wild daffodils on the shores of Ullswater, where Dorothy saw the daffodils that later inspired William's most famous poem

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The words 'Daffodils' and 'Wordsworth' go hand in hand with each other.  

The most famous poem in the English language was composed in 1804, two years after Wordsworth saw the flowers while walking by Ullswater on a stormy day with Dorothy, his sister. His inspiration for the poem came from an account written by Dorothy.

In her journal entry for 15 April 1802 she describes how the daffodils 'tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake.' Wordsworth published his poem, I wandered lonely as a Cloud, in 1807. He altered it several times, and the final version, published in 1815, is simply a revision of the original, the new lines and vocabulary perhaps reflecting the changes in his lifestyle and where he saw himself in the social hierarchy.

Although Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' is one of the most famous and widely read poems in the English language, daffodils were probably not Wordsworth's favourite flower. He wrote no less than three poems about the tiny Common Pilewort (Celandine) which blossoms in early spring.

First version

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 dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: --
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing 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.

Composed, 1804
Published, Poems in Two Volumes 1807


Second version

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.

Published in Collected Poems, 1815

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What's on

Exhibition: Wordsworth, War & Waterloo

The Wordsworth Museum
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Exhibition 16
Mar 2015
01
Nov 2015

Tales for Tots

The Foyle Room, opposite Dove Cottage
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Family activities 29
Apr 2015

Poetry Reading - Paul Muldoon

The Daffodil Hotel
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Poetry events 05
May 2015

Must-see when you visit

Dorothy's amazing journal

See the journal entry for the day when William and Dorothy saw the famous daffodils.

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The Jerwood Centre

The Jerwood Centre is where our collection is stored under controlled conditions and cared for. If you would like to be shown around please phone before you arrive to check that someone is available.

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Wordsworth's skates

Wordsworth enjoyed skating on the frozen lakes of the county in the depths of winter. Two very different pairs of his skates survive and can be seen during your visit.

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Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SH
T:015394 35544

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