The daffodil – the common name for many members of the genus Narcissus - is one of the most appealing flowering plants ever. Whether it’s because of the cheerful flower shape or because there is something almost human about them - the way they nod their heads and dance in the wind - the fact is that plenty of art has been devoted to them. From Berthe Morisot’s Daffodils and Gustav Klimt’s Die Tänzerin to When Flowers Return by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and the Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali – there is no shortage of references to the daffodil.
'The Daffodils' by poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), one of the best-known poems of all time, is also an ode to the plant. William grew up in the English Lake District amongst the wild daffodils. In the poem he compares the flowers to the dancing water in the brook beside them and comes to the conclusion that it’s impossible not to be made happy by so much dancing joy. Here’s an extract from the poem:
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.
- William Wordsworth
Writer Jamaica Kincaid is a fan
The poem prompted many other stories, like 'Dances with Daffodils’ by writer Jamaica Kincaid. She hated the flower because she had to learn Wordsworth’s poem by heart, but later changed her mind. "Forcing poetry on children is the best way to get them to loathe it," she says in Architectural Digest. "I now have 5,500 daffodils in my garden - I walk out into my yard, unable to move at will because my feet are snarled in the graceful long green stems supporting bent yellow flowering heads of daffodils."
You can see how timeless the narcissus is as a source of inspiration from the dance hit 'Daffodils' by DJ Mark Ronson featuring Kevin Parker.
But you probably also sing along to the classic 'Secret Love': “Now I shout it from the highest hills, even told the golden daffodils.” That simply can’t help but make you happy!
Read more about the Narcissus in our plant guide.