Monthly Archives: May 2022
By William Wordsworth – 1770-1850
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 shew 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.
About the Poet
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) wrote beautiful poetry filled with sweet imagery, usually based around the natural world. Often Wordsworth’s poems contained slight somber undertones, as is the case in this poem, as we will explore shortly. This is possible due to the conflict In Wordsworth’s life and his battle with depression. Some scholars suggest that Wordsworth’s relationship with his sister, Dorothy was far from platonic. But Wordsworth did marry and lived with both his wife and sister.
Wordsworth lived through the French Revolution, which he initially supported and later rebuked. William Wordsworth, who rallied for “common speech” within poems and argued against the poetic biases of the period, wrote some of the most influential poetry in Western literature, including his most famous work, The Prelude, which is often considered to be the crowning achievement of English romanticism. He and his close friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge were the pioneers of the romantic era of poetry, and Wordsworth’s earlier romantic poems were widely derided because of this. He was also the poet laureate for queen Victoria for seven years. Today, Wordsworth’s reputation rests heavily on the collection Lyrical Ballads that he published along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798.
About the Poem
“Daffodils” or “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” is one of the best-loved poems of the romantic poetry of William Wordsworth. The poem features how the spontaneous emotions of the poet’s heart sparked by the energetic dance of daffodils help him pen down this sweet little piece. On April 15, 1802, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a host of daffodils around Glencoyne Bay in the Lake District of Northern England. (The falls and surrounding area of Gowbarrow Park is the area of Glencoyne Bay known as Wordsworth Point.) This event was the inspiration behind the composition of Wordsworth’s lyric poem. “Daffodils” has been dissected methodically for illustrating the poet’s mood, the surrounding location, the allegorical meanings, and the beauty of nature in full motion. The poet’s love and proximity with nature have inspired and moved generations after generations of poetry lovers and young minds.
The speaker, likely Wordsworth himself, is wandering down the hills and valley when he stumbled upon a beautiful field of daffodils. Though the poem’s title hints at a cloud, it is not about it. Instead, it is about a group of golden daffodils dancing beside the lake and beneath the trees. The speaker is transfixed by the daffodils seemingly waving, fluttering, and dancing along the waterside. The poet feels immensely gleeful at this mesmerizing natural sight. Amongst the company of flowers, he remains transfixed at those daffodils wavering with full vigor. Oblivious to the poet is the fact that this wondrous scenery of daffodils brings the poet immense joy when he’s in a tense mood or perplexed for that matter. His heart breaths a new life and gives him exponential happiness at sight worth a thousand words.
The poem begins with a symbolic reference to the cloud. It is wandering and lonely. The poetic persona is the embodiment of such a cloud. Hence, it symbolizes being lonely and thoughtless. This state is achieved when one is free from mundane thoughts. The most important symbol of this piece is the daffodils. The narcissistic description of the flower seems to be alluding to the Greek myth. Apart from that, the daffodil acts as a symbol of rejuvenation and pure joy. Wordsworth becomes the means through which the flowers express their vibrance. In his pensive mood, they become a means for the poet’s self-reflection.
Hailed as the champion of the Romantic Movement in the early 19th century, Wordsworth dwelled in scenic Lake District of Northern England, far from the madding crowd. Its roots can be traced back to Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal, in which she reminisces a casual stroll with his brother in 1802, where they came across beautiful daffodils. Dorothy wrote in her journal:
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 seed ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up. But as we went along there were more and 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 they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing.
This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up, but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway. We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy, and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the sea.
The poem was composed within the period of 1804-1807 and subsequently published in 1807, with a revised version published in 1815. The poem is considered a masterpiece of Romantic Era poetry steeped in natural imagery. As the sister’s journal recalls, the daffodils seemed immensely beautiful from a far-off view.
For many of us, Memorial Day weekend is about cookouts, sales, watching fireworks, fellowshipping with family and friends. However, this weekend is supposed to be about honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They gave their lives serving in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. As a military historian and working at a military college, I am very much aware of the sacrifices made every day by military personnel. Historically, LGBTQ+ soldiers have sacrificed even more. For most of the history of the U.S. military, LGBTQ+ soldiers had to be closeted because being “out” wasn’t acceptable. Being outed could have cost them their military career. Many LGBTQ+ soldiers kept their mouths shut and their business to themselves to protect themselves from harm and protect the nation.
In 1982, the U.S. military enacted a policy explicitly banning gay men and lesbians from their ranks. Before that, however, same-sex relations were criminalized and cause for discharge. And in the early 1940s, it was classified as a mental illness, disqualifying gay men and lesbians from service. In 1993, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (DADT) went into effect, allowing closeted LGBTQ+ soldiers to serve in the military. Under the policy, service members would not be asked about their sexual orientation but would be discharged for disclosing it.
Many LGBTQ+ soldiers were outed as gay or lesbian by fellow soldiers and not allowed to serve. Some soldiers were killed by their fellow comrades while on active duty. If you saw the 2003 film Soldier’s Girl, you are aware of U.S. Army infantry soldier PFC Barry Winchell who was murdered on July 6, 1999, by a fellow soldier for dating a transgender woman, Calpernia Addams. The murder became a point of reference in the ongoing DADT debate. Eighteen years after DADT was enacted, Congress repealed the policy, allowing openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to serve in the military.
Another barrier was lifted in 2013 when spousal and family benefits were extended to same-sex married partners in the military. After ending temporarily in 2016, the ban on transgender individuals was again rescinded in 2021, allowing transgender individuals to enlist and serve in the armed forces. It’s been a long journey, but LGBTQ+ soldiers have always been part of the American military. In an era before gay marriage or open pride, military men fell in love, formed passionate friendships, and had same-sex encounters. Due to social and official discrimination, most of the stories of these LGBTQ+ soldiers have gone untold. One famous example was Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian military man hired by George Washington to whip the Continental Army into shape during the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. He was known for his bravery and the discipline and grit he brought to the American troops. Historians also believe he was gay—and served as an openly gay man in the military when sex between men was punished as a crime.
So, if you have never considered the LGBTQ+ service members who lost their lives to serve a country that didn’t respect them, you should. We shouldn’t take our freedom for granted. It comes with a price tag, and we all need to remember this. As we celebrate another Memorial Day weekend, please note this isn’t just another time to party. Today is a day set aside to remember those who have sacrificed their lives so that we may live and be free, fight against discrimination, and love who we want. These brave, unsung heroes sacrificed the truth of themselves. Let us never forget them.
Be safe, be conscious, be proud, and remember our fallen LGBTQ+ service members who died in times when being “out” wasn’t allowed. Thankfully, things seemed to have changed drastically in the U.S. military. LGBTQ+ service members are able to serve openly and without harassment. While acceptance of LGBTQ+ service members is a relatively new development in the military’s long history, the Department of Defense is committed to maintaining a strong force that reflects the nation’s diversity.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The New King James Version titles these verses “Behave Like a Christian.” Can you imagine what kind of world we would be living in if all Christians actually followed these words? Too many Christians are hypocrites, and they all too often follow evil. Think of the number of people who call themselves Christians who have more love for their guns than they do for the safety of our children. Then there are those who love to hate. They fill their heart with hate and claim they are opposing evil by hating what they perceive is evil, even when it’s their own prejudices that cause them to hate.
God tells us to let love radiate from us in all things. We are not to take love, but to genuinely show love for all living things. We are supposed to run away from evil and hold on for dear life to what is good. We should be good friends to others and love them deeply. We also should not be front and center, but do good from the background. We need to be humble in our actions. Romans 6:5-7 says, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
We also need to do things in moderation. If we try to do too much, we will burn ourselves out, but our faith can keep ourselves fueled and renewed. We need to be forever diligent servants of God and spread the love that he represents. There will be hard times. Times when it will feel very difficult for us to love, especially to show love and compassion for those who are doing awful things. However, we can’t quit in hard times; we must pray even harder for God’s guidance. We need to show compassion and help the needy. Maybe we aren’t flush with cash, but there are other ways to help than with money. Maybe you have some clothes that no longer fit. Instead of throwing them out, give them to a charity or to someone you know in need.
It’s difficult to pray for your enemies and especially to pray for those who hate us, but the best thing to do is to pray that they will find God and be embraced by His love so that they will change their ways. I know it’s easy to just curse them under your breath, or sometimes to the top of you lungs, but we need to pray for them. We have to live by example, not lower ourselves to their level. Former first lady Michelle Obama has been quoted as saying “When they go low, we go high.” She has urged Democrats to remain civil when facing Republican slights. Still easy to fight back against against the lack of civility on the part of some Republicans. “Fear is not – it’s not a proper motivator. Hope wins out,” Obama said. “And if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful? We want them to grow up with promise and hope. And we can’t model something different if we want them to be better than that.”
When it comes to our friends, we should feel and show great joy and delight when our friends are happy, and shed tears and commiserate with them when they are sad and lonely. That goes beyond just our friends, but even strangers that we come across. You never know when you’ll make a new friend. That can be especially hard for those of us who are shy, but sometimes, all we need to do is offer a smile, hold a door for someone, let someone over when stuck in traffic. There are so many things we can do that can make someone’s day just a little brighter. Try to get along with everybody you meet, and not judge a book by it’s cover.
God tell us that if we see our enemy hungry, go buy that person food, or if he’s thirsty, get them something to drink. Our generosity will surprise them with our goodness. It might even make them see what they can do to be a better person. We can’t let evil get the best of us; instead, we should get the best of evil by doing good. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sums up the core criteria for being a good Christian (or more generally, a good person). In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Known as the Golden Rule, the common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Yesterday was one of my bad headache days. I woke with a headache, and none of my medicine helped. I wanted to call in sick and stay home in the dark, but that wasn’t possible. First, I had way too much work to do at the museum. There were deadlines to make, and I’ll have to finish them up today and get things submitted.
Then, I had to leave early for my post-endoscopy appointment with the ENT doctor, which turned out to basically be a waste of time. She basically told me there wasn’t much that could be done. They could preform a surgery to remove my uvula and my tonsils (a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP
), which would open up my throat more. I seem to have an abnormally small throat. (No wonder I can’t deep throat. LOL) She told me that if they did the surgery, which would be an incredibly painful procedure, that it might change the anatomy of my throat enough to make me a better candidate for the Inspire implant, but she needed to confer with her colleagues to see what the probability of success might be. The Inspire surgery is supposed to be a fairly simple procedure, but a UPPP is a much more invasive and involved procedure with a longer recovery time. I’m not sure it would be worth it. My better option is probably to continue to lose weight and hope the sleep apnea improves enough to stop needing the CPAP.
It’s been a week. I’m glad it’s Friday and that I have a three day weekend. I need some rest and relaxation. Too much had been happening the last two weeks, and I’m tired. I want to go to the grocery store after work today and get some things for a nice BBQ meal on Monday. Cooking almost always relaxes me.