“Good morning children. Take out your English Readers and turn to Page 5. Daffodils by…”
“Teacher, what are daffodils?”
“What kind of flowers? The red ones that bloom during Holi or…
“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
“Teacher, why lonely? The other clouds would give it company?”
“We’ll discuss this later Molly.”
“Teacher! What are vales? And isn’t the spelling o’er wrong?
“No Molly. Poets are allowed to write like that.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Enough Molly. A host, of golden daffodils.”
“Host? Are they having a party? How can flowers host a party?”
“It’s not that kind of a host Molly. He means a lot of daffodils.”
Molly subsided. She loved stories. Where was the story here? Why say something but mean something else? How would one understand? What kind of flowers – red or yellow? Ten thousand flowers! She would have loved to see them tossing their heads in sprightly – aha a new word – dance.
“…pay attention Molly…the daffodils beat the sea in their dance of joy.
“But Teacher, that’s not the sea. It is a lake.”
“Hold out your hand! Now get out of class.”
“It’s still a lake.” Molly sniffed as she walked out.
PPS: A partly fictionalized account of my first brush with poetry (not counting nursery rhymes). Opinionated and unimaginative, as an 8 year-old, I couldn’t really grasp the essence of the poem (can’t say much has changed since then). Yet strangely enough, that day is crystal clear – where I sat in class, the teacher, my thoughts (I didn’t say most of these things). I also remember being very skeptical about “Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way.” Flowers didn’t twinkle did they? The last stanza of the poem was (and remains) my favorite – been there, done (doing) that 😉
Corporal punishment was the norm in those days, at least in my first school. Apologies (bouquets, kudos and thanks) are due to my English teacher. She did mistake the lake as the sea. I did raise an objection. But she not only gracefully accepted her oversight but also publicly boosted my morale (and bighead) which could be the reason why that day is so clearly etched in my memory. 😀
Thank you for reading – do share your thoughts and memories of this poem or childhood.
For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 88 and Calvin