Sunday 19 November 2017

Poetry - Ulick O'Connor: Rescuing Wordsworth

William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

Ulick O'Connor

Anytime that I see a Wordsworth or a Tennyson poem, I try to check out what's in popular talk or 'on the Rialto' as they used to say. But these poets are both likely to produce the goods.

A while ago, I found myself reading Wordsworth's 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' for the nth time. As I began, I had a stab of doubt which I had never felt before. Was I going to lose Wordsworth and retire him to the world of the spent poet? However, it was just a hiccup in the works. But worse was to come. We are told that the daffodils were 'Tossing their heads in sprightly dance' which, detracted suddenly from the meaning of the poem, then seemed unrewarding. I really had my ears up now at what I was doing. Then I realise that true poetry is a magic connection of words, and that if one isn't careful to nurse the lines, they could shed that magic in a flash. Luckily, the reciter got back on the rails again and everything was alright again on the wagon.

I reread the lines without a flaw and blessed poetry once again warmed my ears with its wonderful tunes.


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.

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.

William Wordsworth 1770-1850

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