Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daffodils



     Stillness around thoughts of the natural world, is more likely an anesthetic.  The stare into landscape, the Bunny nibbling Clover, the Deer peaceful in her glade, the wide tapestry summed by that line from Wordsworth, "All of a sudden I saw a crowd, a host of golden Daffodils."  The great man  had prior to that moment been wandering "lonely as a cloud" in the Lake District.  And I imagine the farmers had watched his progress, and when he and his sister had returned safely from their invigorating walk to the cottage in Grasmere, Farmers counted their Sheep.  Another anesthetic, which I will call "oodles of  stuff" came eventually to Wordsworth in the form of honorary doctorates and the position of Poet Laureate. A title Wordsworth accepted only after the Prime Minister promised him that nothing would be expected of him.  Which in my view is the reason to forgive Wordsworth the hell he has given to generations of school boys. 

 
     Much more interesting to the mind that I have been stricken with, is a man Wordsworth met in Paris.  The year was 1792, and quite why Wordsworth was in Paris during that period of insurrection, I am not certain.  But I will suggest that the anesthetic of nature and its "golden Daffodils"  has run contrary to the anesthetic of "oodles of stuff," for very long time.  And perhaps in great movements of idea, which so often results in slaughter, massacre and shoe-less-ness, the wandering mind might perceive with its own eye the stillness of nature taking its vengeance.  Then when the Prime Minister offers you a role, for which you will be paid and from which nothing will be required of you, it's a temptation to never write anything ever again.  A surrender, I might call it, until I see it as tragic. While in Paris Wordsworth met the traveler and philosopher John Stewart.  His other name was "Walking" Stewart, because he had walked alone from Madras in India all the way home to London in England.  Many a side track and something like thirty years it took him. And even though John Stewart had his portrait painted by the same man who had painted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James and Dolly Madison,  John Adams and host of other golden Daffodils, Walking Stewart himself was found dead in his rented room a day after his fifty seventh birthday, a bottle of laudanum by his side.  And while the Daffodils of his day called his writing naive and arrogant, thought him an academic dunce, others have called him the forefather of the modern ecological movement. And yes he too was an Aquarian.


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