Write about the importance of memory in Wordsworth's "Daffodils" and Clarke's "Miracle on St. David's Day".

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James Challenger 2003                English Poetry Essay

Write about the importance of memory in Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” and Clarke’s “Miracle on St. David’s Day”

The first of the two poems, Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” is about a man remembering that some daffodils cheered him up one day. The poem starts off with the person being described as a cloud and how he slowly joins a “host” of “golden” daffodils. But the reader does not know at first that this poem is actually a memory until further down in the poem. Throughout the poem Wordsworth refers back to the daffodils and makes a connection with other things like them such as stars. Wordsworth also depicts how the daffodils “dance”. In the last verse the reader finally finds out that the poem is a recollection.  

Whilst the second of the two poems, “Miracle on St. David’s Day” written by Gillian Clarke is about a mentally ill patient reciting Wordsworth's “Daffodils” in front of a crowd of other patients and daffodils. From the title "Miracle on St. David's Day" it is revealed to the reader what this poem is about. It is obvious that a miracle is the main point of the poem, meaning something holy yet unexpected.  The poem starts off in a very positive setting “among the cedars and enormous oaks” but by the second verse the reader finds out that Clarke is, in reality, describing an Insane Asylum. The poet describes herself “reading poetry to the insane” as she does a “huge and mild” man recites Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” with no emotion the memory of the poem is perfect but the sound isn’t because he hadn’t spoken in a long time. He recites the poem in front of the other patients and ten thousand daffodils outside.

Both these poems have the theme of memory and daffodils but each are represented in a different way.

In the first line of “Daffodils” Wordsworth describes himself as a cloud, wandering lonely. The verb and adverb tell us that the cloud isn’t moving very fast and that the cloud is a distance from everything else. This is also personification because the cloud could also be a person outcast by society, for example Wordsworth could be trying to describe his own experience. In the second line of the verse the poet uses another slow verb “floats”.         

Half way through the verse there is a change of pace “all at once” and the reader then sees the “crowd” of daffodils.  Additionally the poet using two adjectives to describe the numbers of daffodils “host” and “crowd” showing that there must have been at least one hundred. This could also mean that the person being described as a cloud being accepted back into society. Wordsworth describes the daffodils as “golden” with illustrates the radiant colour and wealth of the memory. In the last line of the first verse Wordsworth uses personification to give the daffodils human characteristics when he uses the verbs “Fluttering and dancing” which are also metaphors. The verb “dancing” also gives the sense that the daffodils were dancing all together in rhythm. In the first verse and throughout the poem the poet uses rhyming couplets at the end of each line. Wordsworth also uses the rhyme scheme of ABABCC in each verse.

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Wordsworth in the second verse talks about “stars” and how many there were and makes a connection between them and the daffodils. The poet describes the stars, as “continuous” showing the reader that there are countless numbers of them. In the second line the writer uses the adjective and verb “twinkle” to describe the stars; there is also a connection between “twinkle” and “golden” because stars are also golden. The poet carries on to say, “they stretched in a never-ending line” which supports the other quotes. Most of the second verse goes on about how many stars there actually are. ...

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