TO A BUTTERFLY

-William Wordsworth

Wordsworth’s poem ,‘To A Butterfly’ broken down to its most elemental feature seeks to bring alive his declamation made in the preface to his era- defining work which he co-authored with his friend and fellow writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge called ,The Lyrical Ballad(1798). One of the most common features of his poetry, the larger corpus which come under Romanticism, can be understood clearly under the light of imagination, an aspiration for infinite goodness, the return to nature, a fleeting sense of time, reminiscence and an urge to reel back into the past. Wordsworth sought to break away from the fetters of reason and venture into the vast unexplored territory of soaring
imagination, while trying to write poetry in,” the real language of men”. A common thread which seems to be looming over all of his works is the fact that he always saw poetry as, “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings… recollected in tranquillity”, which helps him and his work transcend and reach well into the modern times while simultaneously maintaining its original relevance,
naturalism, beauty and innocence.

The poem opens with the poet contemplating and observing with keen interest,” the self poised butterfly”, which sits quietly on a yellow flower in a garden. He seems to be in a state of stupor and entranced by the butterfly. He says that he has watched the butterfly for a full half-hour, which shows that at the very outset of the poem, the poet has a firm sense of the progression of time and the fabric of reality, which as the poem progresses, gradually gives way to reminiscence and a warped and fleeting sense of time. A shroud of mysticism hangs heavy over the butterfly since the poet knows not, if it sleeps or eats. Time slows down, and the adjective, ‘motionless’ is brought to the fore and painted by the use of ‘frozen seas’. There is powerful nature imagery at play. The poet in the latter lines of the first stanza begins to address the butterfly as if it were human. ‘Joy’ is a very human emotion and the wind rustling through leaves and brushing past one’s cheeks hath a joy only
a human can know. But Wordsworth attributes these emotions to a butterfly.

The second stanza begins on a personal note and we can see an allusion to his sister Dorothy Wordsworth. It’s his plot of orchard he says and that the trees are his and the flowers belong to
his sister. He asks the butterfly to rest their wings if they are weary and rest in the comfort of his sanctuary. Wordsworth in the line,

Here lodge as in sanctuary!
makes use of a beautiful simile. The poet further assures the butterfly that no harm will ever come to her in their garden. He implores the butterfly to come and perch near them on the branch so that they can converse,” of sunshine and of songs “. In the very next line when the poet talks of summer
days when he and his sister were young and this throws light and hints towards the quality of timelessness and reminiscence. There seems to be a heightened sense of euphoria surrounding their childhood and time loses its fast movie quality and becomes unhurried. Timelessness is a state
of being in which time and transcended imaginatively. In the lines,

“Sweet childish days, that were as long,
As twenty days are now.”

There is an air of leisureliness encircling these days of palpable cheerfulness. The imagination of the
poet acts upon the external world, integrating a series of perceptions into a single, transcendent vision beyond time and space. He requests the butterfly to remain close by, and not to take its flight. He wants to spend some more time with the butterfly and says that he finds much confidence, solace and conversation in it. Wordsworth calls the butterfly,” the historian of his infancy”, because its presence, on that yellow flower amidst his garden triggered his memories of lost youth. He asks the butterfly to hover and loom close by and to not leave his company so soon. Dead times revive in it and it brings out his long lost memories of carefree childhood days. It brings to his mind the ‘solemn’ and sincere image almost earnest to a fault. It brings to his mind the memories of his family. The butterfly here is personified as the harbinger of the dead past and memories. The poet also makes use of archaic terms like ‘Thou’ and ‘thee’. So, a sense of the old and antiquity is felt in these lines. It almost embodies in all shape and form and even formlessness, the quality of fleeting time and fading memories. The poem explores the dim lit alleys of the past and takes a walk into the sands of time retracing the marks of footsteps the poet left behind as a joyous youth. It is consuming in its essence and beautiful in form. It’s a lyrical poem which embodies the spirit of naturalism and Romanticism.


The poem shows the transient nature of time. But Underneath the thematic exploration and the use of literary tools, ‘To A Butterfly’ implores the little creature, the historian of the poets infancy, even if for a fleeting moment, to revive the dead time, so that he can revel amidst the ashes of the dead.

DAFFODILS

William Wordsworth’s Daffodils, in its essence, is a nature poem. In this poem Wordsworth, talks about the beauty of nature and the effect it has on human mind. William Wordsworth was one of the great English Romantic poet and we can see this greatly influenced by his romantic ideas. The poet expresses his own ideas in this poem, thus, making it subjective in nature, which is one of the most important characteristics of Romantic poetry.

Wordsworth, in his theory of poetry, states that poetry is a ”spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” This poem is a great example of that theory. This poem was written in 1804 but was inspired by the event that had happened in 1802 when Wordsworth was traveling along with his sister, Dorothy in the Lake District of England and they came across a long belt of daffodils. Wordsworth’s powerful emotions take the form of poetry as he is mesmerized by the scenery in front of him.

The original title of the poem was ‘I wondered lonely as a cloud’ is also the first line of the poem. The poem is full of figures of speech such as simile and personification. As mentioned earlier, the first line of the poem,
‘I wondered lonely as a cloud’
is a simile. The poet compares himself to a cloud, as they are both moving aimlessly in their lives. Another example of simile in the poem comes in the second stanza when the poet compares the daffodils with the stars. The flowers are stretched in continuous line just like the stars in the milky way.
“Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way”
Another figure of speech used in the poem very potently is personification. The daffodils are given human-like attributes where they are seen fluttering and dancing. Also the poet addresses the group of daffodils as host.
‘A host, of golden daffodils;’ and
‘Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.’
The use of imagery is also quite vivid in this poem. The lines mentioned below are one of the finest uses of imagery in English poetry;
“A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
Here words like golden, fluttering and dancing create distinct images in our minds. While reading these lines, the reader is immediately transported into the fields of daffodils.
William Wordsworth was a pantheist. He saw nature as a living entity and also there was something divine in nature. Though his pantheism is more prominent in his earlier works such as ”Tintern Abbey” and his ”Preludes” but he can see a hint of it in this poem too. He is in so much love with the beauty of nature that it starts affecting his mind. The lines:
“They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude”
Here he refers to the images of daffodils which are enough to transport him to a place of happiness. As if there is something divine energy in those flowers which can change your ‘pensive mood’ into ‘bliss of solitude’. You can see that he is reminding his readers about the powerful forces of nature.

The major theme of this poem is the beauty of nature and the impact it has on the human minds. Wordsworth throughout the poem, with his skilled use of imagery is taking us to the beautiful field of daffodils. In the third stanza of the poet, he talks about the impact the daffodils have had in his mind.
He states:
“A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company”
These lines clearly state the impact of nature on poet’s mind. He calls the daffodils a cheerful company and states that a poet could be nothing but happy in their company. The poet furthers this argument by stating that whenever he is in a pensive mood, his inward eye (imagination) takes him to those daffodils, they become the source of his happiness. This image gives him so much pleasure that he feels like he is dancing among the daffodils.

Wordsworth was one of the great lyric poets. Daffodils is also a lyric poem. It is written in four stanzas of six lines each and the rhyming scheme is ABABCC .The style is very simple and the language is easy to understand.

This is one of the most popular works of William Wordsworth. Through this poem, the main characteristics of Wordsworth as poet is also expressed. His pantheism, his nature-love, his romantic ideas all find a expression in this poem. Thus, making it one of the important works of William Wordsworth.