If there’s one line of poetry we all know, there’s a good chance it’s about “wandering lonely like a cloud”.
It’s from William Wordsworth’s famous Daffodils poem inspired by Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy who walked through a field of Dafs in 1802. The poem was published in 1807.
Not many Daffodils on view during our recent visit to the Lake District. Then again, not much was, except many not-so-lonely low clouds that brought with them heavy rain and very low visibility.
We did though visit Rydal Mount, in the village of Rydal, between Ambleside and Grasmere.
Wordsworth lived here from 1813 until his death in 1850.
He was, of course, a local lad, having been born in Cockermouth and schooled in Hawkshead. He lived in Grasmere’s Dove Cottage for several years before moving to Rydal. Today Dove Cottage is the home of the Wordsworth Trust and serves as a fitting museum to the poet. No doubt you can learn more about Wordsworth’s poetry by paying it a visit.
At Rydal Mount though, you do get a sense of what he was like as a person.
In his day, poetry was rock n’ rock. He was a massive celebrity fated by prime ministers and dignitaries from all over the world.
Visiting Rydal Mount, you don’t get that sense at all. He may have been a literary superstar. But it’s a pretty intimate and modest house.
You do get the feeling that he was a pretty straightforward man, who was unphased by his celebrity and who loved his family, his books and the Lake District.
His small library and drawing rooms have subsequently been looked knocked through creating a really wonderful room that looked over a fabulous garden that slopes downwards towards the valley below.
Upstairs you can walk through his bedroom and that of his daughter Dora.
Dora died before him in 1847, and at the end of garden you can see Dora’s Field, planted by Wordsworth with daffodils in her memory.
Looking around the house you realise that Wordsworth’s fame and reputation stretches far. Signage is in English and Japanese, reflecting the interest in Wordsworth from the Far East. Poetry is big in Japan and Wordsworth is still studied and revered there. Rydal Mount is therefore definitely on the ‘to do’ list of many Japanese tourists.
Apart from Daffodils, few of us can recall many other poems by Wordsworth. His legacy though, is not just literary. He wrote the first guide to the Lake District and helped make the area fashionable in both literary and wider public circles.
The Lake District’s popularity has grown ever since.