Some things you can’t unknow

For the dverse prompt.

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;

I snap the book closed in annoyance and replace it on the shelf. And while you were wandering so lonely did you spare a thought for the daughter you left behind in France and her mother, whose chances of a decent marriage you scuppered?
Poets are supposed to be sensitive, but you doubt the sensitivity of a man whose sister had to drag him across the Channel to finally meet his nine year-old daughter, and then only to tell her mother that all things considered, he was going to marry someone more appropriate instead.
William didn’t make it as far as his child’s home, but apparently they had a nice walk along the beach at Calais.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

36 thoughts on “Some things you can’t unknow”

    1. There’s not much about Wordsworth I find attractive. He was mostly selfish, completely self-absorbed and surrounded himself with women because they pandered to his every need (they did in those days).

  1. Well….I never claimed to be a poet or near as familiar with poetry as many folks at dVerse! Your post here had me look up William Wordsworth himself…evidently he was quite close to his sister: some say she slept in his bed and went on his honeymoon with him. Interesting man to say the very least.

    1. There’s no evidence that Dorothy and William had that kind of a relationship. He just let his sister wait on him hand and foot. She carried on doing it when he married, so he had two servants. Then his eldest daughter took over. He refused to let her marry until she was thirty-six, because he liked her company.

    1. I think it was generally accepted then (as it still is in many places) that morality was different for men and women. Men did more or less what they fancied. It was Dorothy who insisted he meet his daughter and do something to provide for her. William seemed to have been happy enough to turn the page.

    1. Weren’t they all? His best mate Coleridge didn’t even know his wife had had their fourth child. He hadn’t been home in months. The Wordsworths told him when he came to stay with them.

    1. The ‘adventure’ was probably common enough, but Wordsworth was an all round self-centred bastard. Dorothy was a poet and a writer but never published anything. She wanted William to have all the glory and made no objections when he pinched her lines . The opening lines of the ‘Daffodils’ poem were hers more or less. She wrote a guide to walking the Lake District that Wordsworth published under his name. Didn’t even give his sister a mention never mind a credit.

      1. As an Egyptian civil rights campaigner said not long ago, why would men give up any of their privileges when they have society and women so firmly under control?

    1. He was the original navel gazer, seems not to have thought about anybody but number one. Read Dorothy’s Grasmere Journal if you want to get an idea of his domestic life. It’s fascinating.

    1. I’m not sure he was very different to his peers. Men were expected to sow their wild oats. It was the cowardly way he used the Channel to pretend it had never happened that stuck in my craw. His sister was the sensitive one.

  2. You sent me researching more online and of course there were varying stories. I like the tone you maintain in your prosery….a reminder that not all poets may be upstanding and sensitive. We just want them to be.

    1. If you want to get an idea of the Wordsworth’s domestic set up, read Dorothy’s Grasmere Journals. They’re fascinating as a slice of rural history and absolutely eccentric as a way of carrying on. She was a poet too, but never published and let William use her lines in his own poetry. The ‘Daffodils’ came from her observations, not his.

    1. I read Dorothy Wordsworth’s diaries (Grasmere Journals) not long ago. Fascinating stuff. Gives a lot of historical insight into rural England during the Napoleonic Wars, but it’s the relationship between brother and sister that is surreal. She did everything for him, took him his meals in bed when he couldn’t be sodded to get up, wrote out his poems for him, gave him her own poems because she didn’t think she ought to be in competition with her brother. And he took it all without even a thank you. It was Dorothy who had the ‘Daffodils’ idea and he pinched it.

    1. I find it very difficult to understand modern human beings. Trying to fathom out what went on in the heads of people who lived 200 years ago is impossible, but you’re right, we haven’t progressed much.

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