Daffodils: Bunches of Spring Sunshine

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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!

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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.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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2 responses to “Daffodils: Bunches of Spring Sunshine

  1. When I think of daffodils, I always think of the song That Sunday, That Summer.

    “Lots of daffodils were showing off their skills”

    I couldn’t find a recording of Natalie Cole’s remake of her dad’s song, but she improved it.

  2. What a beautiful song! I love that you posted it. It’s a stirring tribute to spring and to love and a really wonderful example of Nat King Cole’s lovely singing and the sweetness of a lot of early 60s music. (I can imagine that Natalie Cole’s version would be terrific.)

    Embedding has been disabled for the video, so I’m posting the YouTube address. Type it all on one line:

    http://www.youtube.com/
    watch?v=1oHiljdikCk

    Here are some of the lovely lyrics:

    That Sunday, That Summer

    If I had to choose just one day
    To last my whole life through
    It would surely be that Sunday
    The day that I met you

    Newborn whippoorwills were calling from the hills
    Summer was a-coming in but fast
    Lots of daffodils were showing off their skills
    Nodding all together, I could almost hear them whisper
    “Go on, kiss her, go on and kiss her”

    If I had to choose one moment
    To live within my heart
    It would be that tender moment
    Recalling how we started
    Darling, it would be when you smiled at me
    That way, that Sunday, that summer

    Words and Music by George David Weiss and Joe Sherman. This was a big hit in 1963.

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