Poetry in Lockdown: Adapting ‘Daffodils’ for Modern Life
Welcome back to my series on escaping our obsession with the newest thing and instead learning to appreciate and adapt what we already have in our lives. If you haven’t already you can catch my first feature about upcycling clothes here, otherwise keep reading as I discuss the fun that can be had with adapting famous poetry, starting with William Wordsworth’s classic poem, ‘Daffodils’.
From my time teaching English at secondary school and choosing poetry modules at University, I have concluded that poetry has no true definition other than ‘expression of feelings and ideas’, which is ridiculously broad. I found this lack of limits to be equally unsatisfying as it is freeing.
So I thought I would share just a few points on my process of adapting famous poetry before we dive into the poem that I have adapted to convey my feelings about life during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide might be helpful if you are like me and your thoughts tangle and do not express themselves clearly sometimes.
- Begin with a well-known poem
- Read several times to interpret the meaning and understand the form (stanza and line length, rhyme scheme)
- Find the language to fit your ideas – initially, I chose poems that had a similar meaning to what I wanted to achieve as I found this easier.
- If you want to challenge yourself, I sometimes count syllables to retain the full rhythm.
This more technical approach allowed me to initially experiment with poetic techniques in a way that I feel comfortable with and it may offer the same comfort to you. I have found that as I have grown in confidence with my writing and experienced feelings that I have needed to process on a deeper level, I have moved away from other poems to writing originals – using rhyme, alliteration and imagery.
That being said, I definitely recommend this method as a good start place if you are just beginning your poetry journey and I still find plenty of enjoyment in adapting famous work, as you can see below:
Poetry Locked Down: Daffodils by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
Through barren aisles and tape-laid floor,
We are doing as is allowed,
Yet, uneasiness stalks the store.
The basket sprayed, my mask on tight,
Following this new kind of ‘right’.
Continuing past fruit and veg,
Lingering by the milk and cream,
Round each corner I trepidly edge,
Ensuring two metres in between.
I consider my list once more,
Is it essential what I have come here for?
So I throw in milk, and then
Bread too, as a soft disguise,
Thinking and rethinking again
The whos and whats and whys.
And loneliness creeps in until
I see golden crowds by the till.
The queue slowly dwindles down;
I reach for the brightest bunch,
Selecting those with goldest crown,
Resting them on my meal-deal lunch.
So, however alone home feels,
My heart will dance with these daffodils.
Without a doubt, poems are personal and most of them I write purely for myself – I strongly encourage writing of any method to express feelings and ideas as it a brilliant way to reflect on your life and connect with yourself better.
Who knows, maybe my adapted poem of Daffodils to fit in with current-day lockdown life could be a source of creative inspiration for how you can find your own form of expression during this time, and if so, I look forward to reading what you create!
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