Literature Study GuidesThe Grasmere JournalsBook 3 1802 April June Summary

The Grasmere Journals | Study Guide

Dorothy Wordsworth

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The Grasmere Journals | Book 3, 1802 (April–June) | Summary

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Summary

Dorothy writes that she and William went to Keswick on April 7 and visited the area for several days. On April 15 they walk in the woods near Gowbarrow Park and notice some daffodils on the bank of the lake. As they walk, they see more and more of the flowers, drifting under the trees, growing among the stones. Dorothy wrote that the daffodils "tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them." The next day they walked back to Grasmere, and Dorothy recorded the many lovely sights they enjoyed on their journey home.

On April 20 Coleridge surprises the Wordsworths with a visit. He reads them a poem he wrote for Sara, and Dorothy is much affected by it. Feeling melancholy, even lovely spring scenes make her sad. Coleridge leaves on April 25.

The siblings spend nearly all their time outside, laying in the orchard, walking their favorite paths, and William works on "The Leech Gatherer." Once Dorothy sat in a chair by the window with William's hand on her shoulder for some time "in deep silence and love, a blessed hour."

In June, the siblings enjoy an afternoon lying in the grass on a hill, talking over "the disposal of our riches," and Dorothy writes that "earth and sky were so lovely that they melted our very hearts." At the end of June Dorothy notices a swallow's nest under her window. The birds work on the nest steadily. On June 25 she notices the nest has fallen onto the ledge. She continues to check on the birds, and they still use the nest, together.

Analysis

Dorothy's description of the daffodils by the lake is the basis for one of William's best-loved poems, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud." She described the flowers in drifts along the bank of the lake that "tossed and reeled and danced ... with the wind that blew upon them." He used nearly her exact imagery with the lines "I saw a crowd, / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze." This is the most widely referenced poem to demonstrate Dorothy's influence on William's work, but this portion of the journal includes another. William's poem "The Leech Gatherer" is inspired by Dorothy's October 3, 1800, journal entry describing the old man they encountered on the road.

Dorothy identifies with the swallows and their efforts to build and keep a nest. Losing her parents and being separated from her siblings at such a young age, Dorothy longed for a family and a home. Her reunion with William allowed the two to set up a home together. Dorothy worked very hard to make it cozy and keep the two of them together, even when they had very little money. When the nest falls, Dorothy is glad to see the birds stay together. Unwilling to separate from William—her home—she would live with him or his children for the rest of her life.

The mention of the siblings' "riches" in June refers to the long-deferred payment of the money owed their late father. The money was very welcome, although it hardly made the two wealthy.

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