Daffodils are such cheery spring flowers. I love them in bunches. Like sweet peas and stock, they have a humble country appeal. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans apparently loved them, too, as did Shakespeare, who praised them thusly in A Winter’s Tale: “Daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty.”
Then, even given all that, this harbinger of Spring inexplicably disappeared from gardens until the late 1800s, when a Scotsman named Peter Barr actually went daffodil hunting on horse- and muleback, bearing only a picture of the lovely flower. With the help of other English and Scotsmen, the bulbs he collected were cultivated in the British Isles, the Netherlands and the U.S., so that this ancient flower now blooms again all around the world, as well as on my deck. Thank you, Peter Barr, intrepid daffodil hunter!
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.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman