What's in a Word | All Blogs

Hurrah for yellow herald of spring!

By Debra Dobbins

Drum roll, please!

At long last, spring arrives tomorrow. There’s no better proof than the daffodils by the back door of The Daily Sentinel that spring up every year in late winter. On recent blustery days many Sentinel employees have stopped and admired them. These bright flowers have held out the promise of warmer, better days ahead. Daffodils have long been the symbol of rebirth and new creations.

The word “daffodil” came into English around 1540, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. It was “a variant of Middle English affodil (ca. 1400) … The initial d- is perhaps from merging of the article in Dutch de affodil, the Netherlands being a source for bulbs.”

Daffodils have inspired many people around the world. For example, according to Teleflora’s website, “In Wales, it’s said if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth, and Chinese legend has it that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom during the New Year, it will bring good luck to your home.”

Daffodils also inspired William Wordsworth, one of England’s major Romantic poets, who often took inspiration from his environment in northern England’s “Lake Country.” His famous poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud” is just as well known by its alternate name, “Daffodils.” It appears below.

 “I wandered lonely as a cloud”

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
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.
                -- William Wordsworth

Some of the Sentinel’s daffodils
Photo by Debra Dobbins

William Wordsworth at age 28
Portrait by William Schuter
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo special to the Sentinel


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