“My heart with pleasure fills…”

by DRM

Pond in summer, taken with iPhone4, retouched with photogene

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud

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 leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but 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.

William Wordsworth

The poem and the photo don’t go together in any obvious way. It could just be a connection that I am forcing: a photograph that I took and a poem that I like thrown together to make up a post for the day.

Because that’s what we’ve got going on here: one item a day, day in and day out, sometimes first thing in the morning and sometimes late at night.

The daily discipline creates an interesting pressure of its own. Regardless what I’ve got set out to do during the day, a part of my mind wonders what to put up here. Do I have some scrap in my notebook that I’ve been working on? Or, some bit of marginalia — a photo or historical tidbit — that I’ve uncovered working on a larger project? Or have I seen something that has struck an aesthetic chord that I want to share?

I don’t have a big audience here. (I feel really fortunate to have a following at all!) But, I have a following nonetheless and feel an obligation to deliver something that meets your expectations. That’s a funny bill to fill when my starting premise is to share something from my artistic stream, of creating, experience and reflecting, that stands out. And, the thinking goes, if it stands out to me, then I can make something of it, and if I can make something of it, someone else will find it interesting.

That brings us to the photo. At the edge of our property, there is a pond. It has been there for a long time. It’s deep, fed by an underground spring, and surrounded by plush undergrowth and big trees.

Over the past couple of years, three big trees have fallen into the pond from our neighbor’s side. None of us have enough money right now, nor the inclination, to get the trees pulled out and they are hardening and withering in the dark water.

Sometimes we take our rowboat out and paddle around. An egret lives the shallow end in the shade. Turtles like to sun themselves on the fallen trees. Pollen mixes with the algae on the surface to lay a thick green carpet.

When I photograph the pond I can’t find a focus point. The result are pictures that miss the essential quality of the pond, the subtle transformations and the minuscule shifts that happen from day to day. When I look at the pond, I see a mélange of miniature tableaus, each blending with the next.

The pond feeds my understanding of my world, but no part of it captures my imagination. Without that focus, I can’t turn what I see into something like art. The pond isn’t like the chestnut tree in the backyard that speaks to me in deep and evocative ways, calling to a place in my spirit that is filled with song, mystery and ceremony. The pond isn’t like the iron bell in the stone arch, the old clapper broken, that transports me to the time when rolling woods to the west were stripped bare and planted with crops, and the clang of the bell would be heard for miles, calling the help in for the evening meal.

Those objects, the bell and the chestnut tree, I can see with clear focus. I can see the sides, the intricate and particular detail that fuels even deeper sight.

That is what Wordsworth means in his poem about inspiration. His mind’s eye sees the daffodils. My mind’s eye might see something different. Your mind’s eye might see the waves, the white tufts of spray in the wind, the cool caress of the splashing water, the rushing thrill of the crest. Those are the images that our “heart with pleasure fills.”