Frost at Daybreak, April 15

Photo by Jennifer Clarvoe.

          “When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park
           we saw a few daffodils close to the water side. We fancied
          that the lake had floated the seeds ashore and that the little
          colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were
          more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees,
          we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore,
          about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw
          daffodils so beautiful.”

          –Dorothy Wordsworth, Grasmere Journal, April 15, 1802

Whose woods these are I think I know
      (I wander lonely as cloud)
his house is in the village though
      that floats on high o’er vales and hills

he will not see me stopping here
      where all at once I see a crowd
I see his woods fill up with snow
      a host of golden daffodils

My little horse must think it queer
      continuous as the stars that shine
to stop without a farmhouse near
      and twinkle on the milky way
between the woods and frozen lake
      they stretch in never-ending line
the darkest evening of the year
      along the margin of a bay

He gives his harness bells a shake
      the waves beside them dance, but they
to ask if there is some mistake
      out-do the sparkling waves in glee

the only other sound’s the sweep
      (a poet could not but be gay)
of easy wind and downy flake
      in such a jocund company

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
      for oft, when on my couch I lie
though I have promises to keep
      in vacant or in pensive mood
and miles to go before I sleep,
      they flash upon that inward eye
and miles to go before I sleep
      which is the bliss of solitude.

Jennifer Clarvoe, the author of two books of poetry, Invisible Tender and Counter-Amores, has taught for 25 years at Kenyon College. This past fall she was a resident at the James Merrill House in Stonington, CT.
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