Featured Poem: To Daffodils by Robert Herrick

The Reader’s Learning and Quality Leader, Katie Clark, has chosen this week’s Featured Poem, To Daffodils by Robert Herrick.

The park near my house has the most glorious display of daffodils that could rival any scene in the Lake District, they stretch out as far as the eye can see, attracting lots of attention from young and old each year. And yet there always comes that moment each year where the first couple of lines of this poem suddenly spring to mind.

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon; 

The early vibrancy begins to fade.  The bright hope of spring on the horizon seems so rapidly replaced by the next stage, rushing us along and I’m suddenly aware of the temporary nature of things. After a long winter, it seems the year begins to speed up. Why does that feel so unsettling?  I’m interested in the line ‘We have short time to stay, as you,/We have as short a spring’ That mirroring of our own life-spans with the daffodils. I wonder if that is where the ‘weeping’ in the first line comes from, that deeper sense of our own mortality?

I’m drawn to the plea to the daffodils.

Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.

What difference does it make to be able to wait until ‘even-song’? Or is the more important thing being able to ‘go with you along’?

The last three lines are interesting too, likening our short lives to

Like to the Summer’s Rain

Like the daffodils, each of these has its own purpose and time, and its passing on feels natural. There is also something beautiful in the descriptions. They feel precious, and that last line –

Ne’er to be found again

-feels like a plea to pay close attention to them and their beauty, before the opportunity slips away.

To Daffodils

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see 
You haste away so soon; 
As yet the early-rising sun 
Has not attain’d his noon. 
Stay, stay, 
Until the hasting day 
Has run 
But to the even-song; 
And, having pray’d together, we 
Will go with you along. 

We have short time to stay, as you, 
We have as short a spring; 
As quick a growth to meet decay, 
As you, or anything. 
We die 
As your hours do, and dry 
Away, 
Like to the summer’s rain; 
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew, 
Ne’er to be found again.

by Robert Herrick

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *