Courageous Lochinvar And The Gleeful Daffodils

My fascination with poetry started in school. English was my favourite subject and I remember reading the next year’s textbook from cover to cover even before classes started. James Thurber, R.K.Narayan, Saki, Harper Lee and Ruskin Bond were some of the authors who entered my life during this phase. Coming back to poetry, my favourite poems even today are Lochinvar and Daffodils, which I learnt in Class 7.

Sir.Walter Scott’s Lochinvar is a brave knight who “was so faithful in love and so dauntless in war”. He “rode all unarm’d and he rode all alone” to stop a “laggard in love and a dastard in war” from marrying his beautiful Ellen. The imagery in the poem is so vivid that I could almost feel the spray of water on my face when Lochinvar crossed the Eske river on his steed. It’s a simple tale of a knight riding to get his love. Lochinvar is steadfast in his resolve to marry Ellen. No obstacle can stop him and he even crosses the Eske river which did not have a ford. He is not cowed down by the show of strength at the bride’s abode. On the other hand, he boldly strides in and declares that he has come to ” lead but one measure drink one cup of wine”. He drinks his wine and takes the bride’s hand for a dance and then while “the bridesmen and kinsmen and brothers and all” look on, he carries her off on his swift steed. The poem’s focus is squarely on Lochinvar who is described as being courageous, gallant, faithful and brave. If the poem had been introduced to me as an adult, I think I would have hated Ellen. She meekly goes along  with whatever she is told to do. She agrees to marry the laggardly bridegroom even though she loves Lochinvar. When Lochinvar wants her to run away with him, all it takes is “one touch to her hand and one word in her ear” ! However, in spite of the pale, life less heroine, Lochinvar remains my all time favourite poem and nobody can hold a candle to Lord Lochinvar when it comes to courage and valour 🙂

William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ is as far removed from Lochinvar as the earth from the moon. There’re no declarations of love and no gallant riding on his steed and yet I hold this poem close to my heart. The picture of a field of bright yellow daffodils “tossing their heads in sprightly dance”, never fails to lighten my mood and bring a smile to my lips. The thought of the crowd of golden daffodils trying to catch the attention of the lonely cloud is so heart warming. They’re so full of life that they ‘outdid the sparkling waves in glee’. The joie de vivre reminds me of a gang of sprightly teenagers spreading their joy around. The lines,”I gazed- and gazed- but little thought , What wealth the show to me had brought”, are so profound. There’re so many things in life which we take for granted and later when we are away from them we realise how much they enriched our lives. This is true not only for places but also for people.  The last two lines are so optimistic, ” And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils”. The poet does not lament on how much he misses the daffodils, instead he holds that picture in his mind and feels happy just thinking about it.

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