Current Events, Special Days and Historic Anniversaries Brought to Life by Teddy Bears, Pandas and Other Cuddly Creatures

TEN THOUSAND SAW I AT A GLANCE

by Elspeth

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It was exactly 212 years ago today, while out walking with his sister near Lake Ullswater in Grasmere, that William Wordsworth suddenly came upon what he described as ‘a long belt of daffodils’ growing near a river, a sight which would later inspire him to write one of the world’s best-loved poems, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ or ‘Daffodils’ as it’s often simply known.

The daffodil was brought to this country by the Romans who believed that its sap had healing powers. The flower was originally called affodil‘ and it wasn’t until 1538 that the letter ‘d’ was added, although the Oxford English Dictionary can’t give a satisfactory explanation for this addition.  In Victorian times, daffodils represented chivalry. Today, they symbolise hope while, in China, they are seen as symbols of wealth and good fortune. There are more than 50 different species and 25,000 different varieties of daffodils which are sometimes called jonquils, narcissi or paperwhites. Each year, Prince Charles is given a single daffodil as rent for land on the Isles of Scilly.

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Wordsworth’s sister, Dorothy, played an important part in the poet’s life and passed on her love of nature to him.  Two years after their historic encounter with the dancing daffodils, Wordsworth is thought to have written the first version of his popular poem which was published in 1807.  A revised version, the one we all know and love, which contains the most quoted line, ‘Ten thousand saw I at a glance’, was published in 1815.

This is a simple poem about the beauty of nature and how inspiring it can be. The images Wordsworth uses are similar to an artist painting a scene so vividly that the reader can visualise exactly what the poet saw all these years ago.  Interestingly, he gives the daffodils an almost human quality, comparing them to dancers putting on a show for passing walkers.

As you can see, Holly looks rather pleased with herself because she managed to see one more daffodil today than Wordsworth did when he came upon ‘a crowd, a host of golden daffodils’ more than 200 years ago!

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