Chinese love for Wordsworth and Daffodils

One of the more unusual exhibits at Rydal Mount is a gift from China which was delivered a few years ago.

A decorative scroll bearing the most famous poem by William Wordsworth, Daffodils, in Chinese, was presented to the poet’s former home at Rydal Mount near Ambleside.

The ornate two-metre long work of art was brought to the Lake District by a British lecturer working at a Chinese university.

It has been exhibited since at the house which is now celebrating 250 years since the birth of the poet.

Chris Brown, who visited Rydal Mount as a child, presented the Chinese translation to the curators, after discovering a remarkable affection for the Lakes poets among students in China.

Chris, a lecturer in law and English at Shandong Jiaotong University in Jinan, was discussing poetry with a professor of English literature, Mei Zeng. “I started reciting Wordsworth’s lines ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud..’ remembering it from my childhood. It had stuck in my head,” he recalled.

chinese scroll

Mei Zeng translated Daffodils into Chinese and then introduced Chris to Professor Cai Xianjin, professor of Chinese classical literature and the Vice President of the University of Jinan, who had spent 30 years learning Chinese calligraphic art.

It was he who wrote the poem on the scroll. “I wondered what to do with it,” said Chris. “I discovered that Wordsworth had published his definitive version of Daffodils in 1815 while living at Rydal Mount, and thought it would be wonderful if we could present this scroll to them.”

He told Rydal Mount that the love of Wordsworth’s poetry among the Chinese was “amazing”.

“It is part of the core curriculum for students. The work of the Lake poets inspires them.”

It’s likely to be the first time that the poem has been translated and written out this way. “We are honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to display this historic document, and we were very happy to accept it on behalf of the Wordsworth family, ” said Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet’s great great great great grandson.

 

 

Wordsworth treasures come home

A treasure trove of items belonging to William Wordsworth never seen publicly before has been given to us here Rydal Mount, the poet’s home near Ambleside.

The items include two portraits which had not been seen for generations and that have never appeared on public display.

There’s a framed portrait in oils of William Wordsworth by Sir Willam Boxall. This is the finished portrait, the study of which can be found in the National Portrait Gallery and is a dramatic image of Wordsworth emerging from a glowering landscape.

And there’s also a chalk and charcoal drawing by Samuel Crosthwaite, the last known portrait done of Wordsworth while he was still alive. This last portrait shows Wordsworth as a wild old poet at the end of his life rather than the more familiar image as a traditional pillar of Victorian society.

Rydal Mount

There’s a number of smaller paintings by Sir George Beaumont, which have been hung in the dining room at Rydal Mount, as well as an important image that inspired The White Doe of Rylstone. This joins another image that inspired The Thorn which was already on display.

Rydal Mount

For many devotees, perhaps the most startling new arrival is the Wordsworth family bible, featuring in beautiful copperplate writing the date of John and Anne Wordsworth’s wedding day, and the birth and christening dates of all their children, including William and Dorothy.

There’s Wordsworth’s own walking sticks, one with his crest in silver on it. And there’s a fascinating artist’s impression of the west elevation of a house which Wordsworth planned to build on what’s now known as Dora’s Field. A copy of the plans of this house had been hanging in the study at Rydal Mount, but the artist’s impression of the house brings this vision to life.

Rydal Mount

They will all eventually go on display at Rydal Mount during this year of celebration to mark 250 years since the poet’s birth. A number of events to mark the anniversary are planned in the Lake District and in London, where a wreath-laying service will be held in Westminster Abbey in Match.

The items have all been donated by the direct descendants of Wordsworth who were keen for them to return to their home and remain in the Wordsworth family.

The curator, Emily Heath, said: “This is a truly astonishing and historic collection which students of Wordsworth and lovers of his life and poetry will find fascinating. It is a very exciting moment indeed.”

The poet’s great great great great grandson Christopher Wordsworth Andrew said: “Although we were very sad when my great-uncle, Gordon Wordsworth, died, we are very happy that his grandchildren, and my cousins, Giles and Zara Wordsworth, have generously returned these items to Rydal Mount. This was one of the last great collections of paintings, memorabilia and books in my family and it could quickly have been dispersed and lost down further generations. Everything is now preserved for us and the public to view at Rydal Mount.”

 

  • The two Beaumont paintings have immense literary significance. One, The White Doe, inspired Wordsworth to write a poem after a visit to Bolton Priory in 1807. It’s based on a legendary account concerning the local Norton family. Francis Norton, the youngest member of the house of Norton in the late 16th century, took a young milk-white doe from the moors near their home, and gave it to his sister, Emily. He later, together with his father and brothers, joined a Catholic rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I. The rebels were defeated and condemned to death but Francis alone was pardoned and he, returning to Norton Tower, was murdered. Emily, chancing upon the loyal tenants taking him for burial, sank down in despair. Out of the forest came a herd of deer and one of them stopped, laying its head upon Emily’s lap. It was the white doe, and it became Emily’s constant companion and comfort in her home in Rylstone, even following her down the valley to Bolton Priory to visit Francis’ grave. After Emily died, the doe faithfully continued to make the journey, lying upon the grassy mound under which Emily’s brother lay.

Rydal Mount

  • The image of the white doe joins another picture of Beaumont’s of Peel Castle in a Storm which inspired Wordsworth’s poem The Thorn :

 

There is a Thorn—it looks so old,

In truth, you’d find it hard to say

How it could ever have been young,

It looks so old and grey.

Not higher than a two years’ child

It stands erect, this aged Thorn;

No leaves it has, no prickly points;

It is a mass of knotted joints,

A wretched thing forlorn.

It stands erect, and like a stone

With lichens is it overgrown.

 

 

Poets will live and work with Wordsworth

 Two more poets are to spend time this summer at William Wordsworth’s home near Ambleside, writing and meeting visitors to the house.

Kerry Darbishire and James Byrne join Kieron Winn as “poets in residence” at Rydal Mount, as part of the celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth.

Each will spend a week living and working at the house where visitors come to see the place where some of the world’s greatest poetry was written.

Kerry Darbishire lives on a Cumbrian fellside where most of her poetry is rooted. Since her mentorship with Judy Brown, poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in 2013, her poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies and have won many prizes.

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Her first poetry collectionA Lift of Wings was published in 2014. Kay’s Ark, the story of her mother, was published in 2016. Her second poetry collection, Distance Sweet on My Tongue, was published in 2018; this gained Kerry a finalist place in the Cumbria Culture Awards. She was longlisted in the prestigious Bridport Prize 2017, and she reads her work at many Cumbrian venues.

Kerry is a member of the Brewery Poets, Dove Cottage Poets, Write on the Farm Poets and Barrow Poets and is a regular Poetry School online course student. She is currently working on her third poetry collection. She is the great great great niece of the composer Frederick Delius.

Poet, editor, and translator James Byrne, who lives in Liverpool, is the author of the poetry collections Everything that is Broken Up Dances (2015), White Coins (2015), and Blood/Sugar (2009). He earned an MFA in poetry from New York University, where he was awarded a Stein Fellowship.

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James was the poet in residence at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, and is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University in England. He is the international editor for Arc Publications and the editor of The Wolf, which he co-founded in 2002.
James Byrne’s poems have been translated into several languages—including Arabic, Burmese, and Chinese—and he has given poetry readings across the world.
He co-translated and co-edited Bones Will Crow , the first anthology of contemporary Burmese poetry to be published in English. He is the co-editor of Voice Recognition21 Poets for the 21st Century, and editor of The Wolf: A Decade (2012). He is currently coediting Atlantic Drift: an Anthology of Poetry & Poetics, featuring poets from the US, UK, and Canada.
Kieron Winn, whose residency was announced last year, has twice won the University of Oxford’s most valuable literary award, the English Poem on a Sacred Subject Prize. Kieron’s first collection of poems, The Mortal Man, was published in 2015.

Kieron Winn 2019 Black and White

He lives on Osney Island in Oxford, and is a freelance teacher of creative writing and English literature, including to visiting students from the Stanford University programme in Oxford and from Lady Margaret Hall, where he has recently been poet in residence. Increasingly he visits schools to talk to pupils about form and structure in poetry.

His poems have appeared in British and American magazines, including The London MagazineNew StatesmanOxford Magazine, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement. Selections of his poems also appear in anthologies and he has read his poems on BBC TV and radio.

Curator of Rydal Mount, Emily Heath, said that the residences were an exciting part of the programme of anniversary celebrations. “We are looking forward to what these three wonderful poets will write when they are here, working under the inspiration of William Wordsworth.”