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.
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.
Having grown up on these lines it was of course natural that our visit to UK in 2011 involved a pilgrimage to the Lake district to pay homage to the place where William Wordsworth spent much of his life.
Our first stop was Dove Cottage, which houses the Wordsworth Museum.
It was here that Wordsworth penned some of the most beautiful lines in English language and his sister Dorothy kept her famous ‘Grasmere Journal’, now on display in the Museum.
The cottage upon which Wordsworth chanced upon while walking with his brother John and Samuel Coleridge was once an inn ‘Dove and Olive Bough’ and from that got its name the Dove Cottage,
Wordsworth lived here for 8 years, got married here and three of his children were born here.
For directions and timings, check this out.
Next to the Dove Cottage is the Wordsworth Museum, well worth your while as it houses the greatest collection of the Wordsworths’ letters, journals and poems in the world.
In 1813 Wordsworth moved to Mount Rydal in Ambleside to house his growing family and increasing number of visitors.
he stayed till his death in 1850.
In front of the house there is a stool next to a wooden bench which looks so invitingly romantic that most of the busloads of visitors to Mount Rydal posed for pictures on it.
Of course so did we!
An artist’s impression of Mount Rydal
The rooms inside are a literature lesson in themselves.. I just give you some of them.. I think they speak for themselves and no description is needed.
Wordsworth’s letter on being offered post of Poet laureate
The Poet’s handwritten manuscripts
Its the garden and terraces which were a source of inspiration and are truly breathtaking.They were landscaped by Wordsworth himself who called it his office and to look at them to draw inspiration to write ourselves.
The summerhouse where Wordsworth liked to sit and recite his verses.
It has a stunning view
It was here that his daughter Dora died in 1847. The Rash field which was originally bought by Wordsworth to build a new house became a memorial to Dora. Wordsworth together with his wife, sister and gardener, planted hundreds of daffodils as a memorial to Dora in that field.
Unfortunately we went in July when the daffodils were not flowering .
A last and lasting impression of the beautiful Mount Rydal
One one over riding memory from this visit especially to Dove Cottage was the strong relationship between William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy.
Dorothy’s Grasmere Journals written in Dove Cottage and on display in the museum there detail her relationship with William and their adventures in the Lake District with friend and fellow poet Samuel Coleridge.
The three friends used to take long walks together, during which time they would fall into what Dorothy called “trance states.”
Some scholars speculate that Lucy from The Lucy poems (a series of five poems) composed by Wordsworth is based on his sister Dorothy.
The happiest days of Dorothy Wordsworth’s life were between the Christmas of 1799, when, as she put it, she and William were left to ourselves & had turned our whole hearts to Grasmere, and October 1802, when William married and they were left to themselves no longer. During these years, Dorothy never went farther than a day’s journey from Dove Cottage.
Her journal entry for October 4, 1802, describes her William’s wedding to Mary Hutchinson. She herself could not bear to attend the wedding and had already bid a very passionate farewell to her brother in the morning as he went to church.
“On Monday 4th October 1802, my Brother William was married to Mary Hutchinson. I slept a good deal of the night & rose fresh & well in the morning — at a little after 8 o’clock I saw them go down the avenue towards the Church. William had parted from me upstairs. I gave him the wedding ring — with how deep a blessing! I took it from my forefinger where I had worn it the whole of the night before — he slipped it again onto my finger & blessed me fervently. When they were absent my dear little Sara [Hutchinson, sister of the bride] prepared the breakfast. I kept myself as quiet as I could, but when I saw the two men running up the walk, coming to tell us it was over, I could stand it no longer & threw myself on the bed where I lay in stillness, neither hearing or seeing anything, till Sara came upstairs to me & said “They are coming.” This forced me from the bed where I lay & I moved I knew not how straight forward, faster than my strength could carry me till I met my beloved William & fell upon his bosom. He & John Hutchinson led me to the house & there I stayed to welcome my dear Mary.”
I felt as if I was peeping into her soul when I read this entry.
Her relationship seems complex and maybe incestuous.Biographer Frances Wilson in new book, The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth, chronicles the intense connection between the Wordsworth siblings based on the Grasmere Journals.
However she explains, “I don’t think for a moment that there was any sexual relationship between them, because I think their relationship had nothing to do with bodies.They were wrapped up in each others minds in a much complicated and frightening way.”
Wilson describes the relationship as “extraordinary.” In some ways, she says, it was the most passionate relationship of both of their lives: “For Dorothy there was no other man ever,” says Wilson.