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.



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