Thinking and trying to reply to the comments for the daffies, I found I had quite a lot to say...
That damned poem, Dave called it, telling how his mother recites it every spring, 'as dependable as spring itself', while Joe pleads its case 'if only we come to it as if for the first time'. Yes, it is utterly familiar, trite, one might say. And it's subject matter is light, sweet, sugary, one might say...
Are we able to look at a show of daffodils without thinking about it? Are we unable to come to daffodils themselves as if for the first time because of it? Possibly not, which was why I whimsically broke up the images of the daffodils with the fragments of the text of the poem. But how able are we to look at anything without our cultural experiences and preconceptions affecting our perception of them?
Then GrannyJ's comment about her late mother reciting it near the end of her life moved me so much, and affirmed what I was coming to think about it, which reminded me also of Gillian Clarke's famous 'Miracle on St David's Day' (the link is to a post on Ally's blog, the only place I could find a tidy copy of it...). It is not only a poem about ickle pretty flowers. It is about what Jan Struther called 'stored up beauty': the experiences one internalises that stay and come back, often unasked, to 'flash upon that inward eye'. And it for so many people the poem itself has become an element in that internal storehouse, that matrix of stuff that makes up the critical bone mass density of the spirit, that we fall back on when, for whatever reason, the new and the fresh and the original is not available or accesible to us. These thing are often those which were forced down our throats as youngsters, that we scoffed at or disregarded at the time, but are grateful for later.
GrannyJ's mother must have learned it some ninety years ago, quite possibly from someone who was alive when Wordsworth was, and that is another aspect of the matter, the continuity and connection with the past such things give us. They are something shared.
And I suppose, the perennial appeal of the poem is the perennial appeal of spring itself. You really have to be very churlish to look about you in March, and say, 'Oh no, not bloody daffodils again!'
Water of Leith
32 minutes ago