Daffodils copyright Karen Barden
Daffodils

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850

Dove Cottage copyright Dave Willis

His 'Daffodils' poem beginning “I wander’d lonely as a cloud” is the quintessential Lake District poem. Born in Cockermouth, just north of the National Park, he went to school in Hawkshead. After attending Cambridge University and then living in Dorset, Wordsworth moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere in 1799 and then Rydal Mount in 1813.

Wordsworth’s ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’ published in 1820 sparked off the first beginnings of mass tourism to the area.

Quotations

On the Lake District: "A sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy".

On the mountains: "in the combinations which they make, towering above each other, or lifting themselves in ridges like the waves of a tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their surfaces and colours, they are surpassed by none".

Arguing that extending the railway into the Lake District would bring so many people that they would destroy the beauty they had come to see: “Let then the beauty be undisfigured and the retirement unviolated”.

On the building of the Georgian roundhouse on Belle Isle, Windermere: “A pepper-pot”

Locations

Many places vie for the honour of being the daffodils of the famous poem, but the most likely place is between Patterdale and Gowbarrow by Ullswater.

You can see Wordsworth’s carved name in his school desk at Hawkshead Grammar School.

Daffodils by William Wordsworth (1804)

I wander'd 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 stretch'd 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
Out-did 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.

More information

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Rydal Mount

Picture of Rydal Mount where Wordsworth once lived

Visit Wordsworth's best loved family home, where he wrote many of his famous poems.

More on Rydal Mount and book

Wordsworth Trust

Picture of William Wordsworth

Learn about England's poet laureate at Dove Cottage in Grasmere.

More on Wordsworth Trust and book

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Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

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