“Flash Upon that Inward Eye” 24×12, oil on canvas $300.00
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
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.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
The real challenge is to “wander.” Not to decide exactly where you’re going in exactly how much time because that is precisely how you miss the daffodils.
I didn’t tell the whole story of yesterday’s painting. It was actually this one, today’s, but in a fit of frustration I’d set it aside and went to a second canvas, the one that won out as a better “Innisfree”. The problem was being far too focused on that solid horizon line that has come to define my abstract pieces. I freed the painting from its two pieces, and all of a sudden I had what I wanted– a painting that buzzed.
Today, armed with all that blessed knowledge, I went back to the canvas intended for yesterday. Last week my mom, who was going through some old things, gave me a Spring 2004 copy of The Motley– the literary magazine of my alma mater Spring Hill College. She handed it to me opened to page 6 where my essay on Romantic poets appeared. Reading it was like looking at an old photo of myself– recognizable, sure, but still too foreign to be myself. I remember very clearly choosing English as a major because “critic” was easier and less vulnerable than “artist”. Secretly I wrote hundreds upon hundreds of poems as I openly and often sarcastically critiqued those of others. I also picked up a second major in art which seemed to serve as a nice balance between analyzing and creating.
College was also when I first discovered what I think must be what those romantic poets meant about the “sublime.” It was dusk, and I was walking across our beautiful oak-lined campus with my newly- found best friend and kindred spirit when the just-arrived moonlight hit the branch of a tree in such a way that I gasped. I turned to my friend: “It was so beautiful, I lost my breath for just a second.” I don’t remember what she said but I know she didn’t laugh at me.
All this preamble has a point. I chose Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as A Cloud” as a throwback to the time when I first fell in love with poetry, when I first felt like people were communicating with me from across time.
When I think about that oak in the moonlight, when it flashes upon “that inward eye”, “my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.” Or the oaks. Or the friendship inherent in all of it.
In fact, I referenced the daffodils in the painting. Do you see them?
Even though this was obviously meant as a companion piece to yesterday’s painting, I tried not to get hung up on its compatibility but rather let the idea of treasured memory dictate the image.
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was recommended to me just as “Lake Isle of Innisfree” was. I’m still eager to hear about more of your favorite poems.