In elementary school, we were required to memorize poetry in English then stand up in front of our class and recite the poem using American Sign Language (ASL). The purpose of this exercise was to teach us, as Deaf students, the ability to translate from English into ASL and to learn the essentials of English. This poem, The Daffodils, was one of those poems and I remember well the difficulties that I had committing it to memory.
By William Wordsworth
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
Outdid 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.
I often recall this poem whenever March arrives and the daffodils return. For me, it signifies the seasonal transition, a farewell to Winter and a warm welcome to Spring. It serves as a precursor to the marvels that will soon occur in nature.
As a man who is an enthusiastic fan of hot weather, the daffodils are a welcome sight to behold. They bring with them the promise of the imminent return of my favorite time of the year!
Author’s Note: A friend took the accompanying photos of me in March, 2010.