The A to Z of English - Inspired by Nature’s beauty

WE are living in trying times where anger, hatred and revenge are destroying us and politics – which in its primary objective should be uplifting in nature and support the people at large – has turned out to be the perpetrator of sufferings around the world today.

And of course race and religion – which in essence should unite people and be the reason for us to celebrate the diversity – has become the "villain" pitting humans against each other.

Then again, whether it is politics, religion or race, it is we humans who have lost sight of our first nature which is humanity.

In this scenario, we as the ordinary folk latch on to the tiniest bit of hope that peeks at us occasionally from just about anywhere.

In the past week we have been inundated with pictures and images of people forming a sea of red and yellow and our information channels were swarmed with a cacophony of intentions and themes and I decided to steer away from all the negativity that was whirling around. I found solace and was consumed in something more pleasant.

The sea of yellow reminded me of daffodils which was the subject of the English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) where the flower stands for beauty and tranquillity. The poet uses personification to engage and turn our senses into visually and virtually appreciating this unassuming bloom.

The poem, titled I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud is made up of words that were born from Wordsworth during a tour of Europe in his college days. This tour is believed to have set in motion his desire to write the kind of poems that would make you stop, ponder and appreciate the abundance in nature.

It is noteworthy that the poem is a lyrical poem and is characterised by the writer expressing his private thoughts and feelings. The term lyric is now commonly referred to as the words to a song. Lyrical poetry does not tell a story which portrays characters and actions. The lyric poet addresses the reader directly, portraying his or her own feeling, state of mind, and perceptions.

Wordsworth is also credited with having started The English Romantic Movement with the publication of Lyrical Ballads in association with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Briefly, Romantic poetry was written during the Romantic literary movement, which emphasised emotion, nature and individuality. This movement was most powerful at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.

Romantic poets tend to use fairly simple language because it endeavours to have the flavour of spontaneous speech. One of the most famous Romantic poets, Wordsworth, said that poetry was the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings".

True to this we will find I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud appealing to the young and old and as well as those with limited English proficiency.

For example, in the first stanza it is a simple idea put forward where the poet declares that despite being high above, it is lonely but that changed on seeing the daffodils and we could sense the joviality in his words.

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.

The poem is just the writer's take on the breathtaking view of the flowers from a vantage point. The sheer abundance of the flowers all lined up and animated is inspiring and we can immediately identify with the writer's awe and joy at being able to appreciate God's creation in the daffodils.

I have always found the personification in this poem so engaging with the comparison of daffodils to dancing humans. The "heads" of the daffodils are the part of the flower. It is larger and heavier than the stem, and so it sways in a breeze.

What is the significance of daffodils in the poem? The daffodils are like little yellow people who keep the speaker company when he is feeling lonely. The happiness of the daffodils can always cheer him up, because they are dancing and are always happy. Nature's beauty uplifts the human spirit and it does so without being asked. The nature of Nature is to give copiously without placing a price tag.

Wordsworth's words, "That best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love", makes us ruminate that at the end of everything, that which remains with us is not what we have been fighting for all our lives.

The writer believes that the Malaysian education system will reach greater heights with a strong antidote to revolutionise just about everything, a complete overhaul, if you like. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com