In­spired by Na­ture’s beauty

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY BHAVANI KR­ISHNA IYER

W Eare 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

Wordsworth was in­spired by such a scene dur­ing a tour in 1802.

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