[And so I] gained the Duddon Bridge. There as I stood watching the water, crystal-clear, cast the shadows of its dimpling upon the grey blue shallows, I was suddenly attracted to a gleam of gold in the sparse woodland by the bank, and passing by the forge up the road through the open copse towards Duddon Hall, the scent, not of violets, but of garlic for the moment troubled me; but I forgot all about the wild garlic in the beauty of the white anemones and the scentless grey blue violets which spangled the under growth, and after about a hundred yards I found myself at the beginning of such a woodland field of the cloth of gold as ever was laid for the coming of a May Queen, or the royal pageant of spring. I had no right to leave the road, but if all the retinue of the laird of Donnerdale had come out against me, I feel I should have made a dash for it, for here, in the copse of grey ash shoots, and purpling birches, and glossy hazels, filled with the song of birds innumerable, with the sound of Duddon lisping among its pebbles and chiming merrily in my ear, were thousands upon tens of thousands of the bright-eyed daffodils growing in silent splendour unimaginable. (pp. 8-9)
The children of countless years, they seemed to have possessed themselves of every square foot of the tender undergrowth, they found foothold on the runnel edges, they glowed within the shadow of the woodland trenches, they dazzled the sun itself from the rocky knolls, they shook with delight upon the river islands and nodded and moved to their own shadows in the quiet pools. “A poet could not but be gay in such a jocund company.” One felt oneself smiling all over with pure gladness to think of the happiness of this vast multitude of April children, and one thanked the poet of the Duddon for having put into such simple verse his faith to make it the faith of others, namely that “every flower enjoys the air it breathes.” (p. 9)….
Sunshine showered upon me as I passed along the Duddon, and the old disused millrace. At my side, the shells of the wind-flower, opened so wide for delight, one felt they would not care to close again. Here and there like bits of lapis lazuli, the first bluebell was seen, and there in deepest gold, the marigold clusters shone. Lifting one’s eyes from the daffodils for a moment, and looking up towards the copses on the opposite shore one saw, as my honest friend had told me, “sic sheets of primroses as nivver waur.” They broidered the hedgerows, they sheeted the meadow lands and filled the cool interspace of shade and sun with tender light, and the blackbirds carolled with their deepest altos, the thrushes called with their highest trebles, and the chiffchaffs quavered and thrilled from the fragrant larch tresses, and with the sound of water in my ears, and melody of birds filling the air, I passed to where nearer Duddon Hall the daffodil myriads shone in their royallest splendour. Here in their wanton love of wandering they had passed beyond the edges of the copse-land, and madcap revellers were tossing their heads in the open meadow-land with such sense of exuberance of joy as made one just sit down amongst them and let their golden frolic fill one’s blood. The inexorable hours would not allow of one’s remaining, or one might have been sitting there in daffodil delight now. Never did Duddon valley, with its blue distance, and its hanging woods by Osier and Donnerdale, its crystal river, and its blue grey shadows, seem more fair. (pp. 10-11)
I passed back a happier man and leaned upon the Duddon Bridge; I was in good company, the Poet of the daffodil was at my side; it was for all I knew the last time I should be permitted to see so fair an April day, the river “gliding at its own sweet will” downward to the sea had glided thus, before the druids went a-worshipping beneath yonder hill, and if the Barrow Waterworks Company will permit, will go on gliding for ten thousand years, with just such crystal clearness, just such sound. These daffodils that lay their golden light along the stream, and fill the woodland with their “stationary sunshine,” so grew, and so lightened the copses, when the Britons clomb the Pen, or the Roman soldiers made their great coast road, or the Vikings grazed their horses on Hest Fell. Ten thousand years hence these daffodils shall shine for other eyes with just the same power to touch the human heart with tender gratitude and springtide joy. (pp. 11-12)
(A Rambler’s Notebook at the English Lakes, pp. 1-12)