Exhibition tribute to Wordsworth’s Daffodils

A major exhibition by a Japanese artist will be staged in the Lake District to mark the 200th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s Daffodils, said to be the world’s most famous poem.

The work of Hideyuki Sobue on the theme of “I wandered” will be shown at Rydal Mount, the house near Ambleside where Wordsworth lived for most of his life, and from where he published the definitive version of the poem that begins with those words.

The exhibition will open on April 11, following a private reception at Rydal Mount, still owned by the poet’s descendants. The poet Gary Boswell will read some of his own work written in tribute to Wordsworth. The exhibition will run for two months.

Hideyuki, who now lives in the Lake District, is a great admirer of Wordsworth’s work. He and Gary Boswell worked together on a collaborative project at Rydal Mount ten years ago, in an attempt “to trace back to the poet’s spirituality and creativity from the perspective of our contemporary society”. The new exhibition takes the Daffodils poem and the opening words “I wandered” as its inspiration.

Hideyuki was born in Japan and brought up in a children’s home for orphans. He studied art at Osaka University and then moved to England and was elected a member of the Lakes Artists Society in 2008. He has had exhibitions in London and throughout the UK.

Award-winning poet, journalist and writer Gary Boswell has held a number of “writer in residences” and was poet in residence for the 2010 World Cup.

Daffodils has captured the hearts of poetry lovers across the world. It has been recited simultaneously by 150,000 schoolchildren, won an American TV talent show when read by a young contestant, and translated into many languages. A version in Chinese calligraphy written on a six-foot high scroll was presented to Rydal Mount recently by a lecturer at Shandong Jiaotong University in China.

The poem was set to music in a song, I wandered lonely as a cloud, recorded by American folk glitter queen Judy Polan in 1996, and performed at Rydal Mount when she visited England.

The Wordsworth family hopes that the anniversary will rekindle interest in what they call “this wonderful poem”.

The poet’s great great great great grandson Christopher Wordsworth said of the appeal of Daffodils: “The poem has deceptively simple language which delivers a profound message.”

Meanwhile, schoolchildren across Cumbria have been writing poems of their own on the theme “I wandered” and their efforts will be judged by the Wordsworth family. The annual Wordsworth Young Poet award will be made at the end of March.

The inspiration for the poem came from a walk Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy took through the woods beyond Gowbarrow at Ullswater and came across a “belt” of wild daffodils blowing in the wind from the lake.

Rydal Mount is still owned by the Wordsworth family and open to visitors daily, with limited opening hours in winter. http://www.rydalmount.co.uk/opening/

The house is a treasure trove of Wordsworth memorabilia. The gardens are being restored according to plans made by the poet. Below the house is Dora’s Field , which Wordsworth planted with daffodils in memory of his eldest daughter, who died from tuberculosis in 1847.

Wordsworth wrote several earlier versions of Daffodils but the version we know today is this final one published in 1815.


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