Poetry Analysis Daffodils by Ted Hughes

Poetry Analysis Daffodils by Ted Hughes

PoetryAnalysis: Daffodils by Ted Hughes

Thereis nobody who recalls the experience we had in picking the daffodilsthan I do. On that day, your daughter had many on them in her hands,looking happy and enthusiastic. She enjoyed helping us harvest thedaffodils. However, she cannot remember that now. Neither can sheremember me you as well. After harvesting, we sold the daffodils assoon we got them from the fields. It does not sound right now. It isunimaginable to waste such a treasure, but unfortunately we did. Indeed, they were in plenty. They sprouted as though they will neverstop. That happened to our delight. One would have thought they fellstraight from heavens rather than grow from the fields. The life welived was extravagant and it took a toll on our fortunes. We couldnot recognize that because we thought that we would live forever. Wedid not realize that the daffodils were only there for a while and wewould lose them soon. Nothing changed. We treated the daffodils thesame way whenever they sprouted in March. We dashed for the harvestmoment even before they could finally be out of their buds. As Aprilset in and we had no more harvesting, the daffodils had no moreflowers, and their stems were the only flimsy sign of the beautifultimes. Indeed, they sparked the memories. Everyone else may haveforgotten, but your scissors may not. The blades are still open andhave rusted throughout every April since you left. Indeed, thepassage of time is reality of life, and its temporary nature createsthe nostalgia that the persona expresses in the poem. The poemanalyzes the fact that, however much life blossoms like thedaffodils it is as temporary as they are.

Thespeaker is a nostalgic person whose partner left them with theirdaughter. In the poem the speaker says, “She cannot even rememberyou/she has forgotten”(Hughes 12). In the poem, they are reminiscent of the experiences they had withthe partner during harvesting in daffodil fields. The place of thepoem is possibly in the family home. The time of the poem is possiblymany years since the speaker lost their partner. The atmosphere ofthe poem is that of emotional ambivalence. Although they are stilllonely due to the loss of their partner, the good times they hadtogether bring fond memories as well. The words of the speaker inthe poem show that they have learned a lot from the death of theirpartner through the course of time. The realized that it isimportant to use the treasures they have since they will soon nothave them. The daffodils are no more and they do not have the bestmoments, they used to have with their partner.

TheTitle of the poem is symbolic. Daffodils only last for short periodand they symbolize the short life the persona had with their partner. The description of how they extravagantly sold the daffodils withtheir partner because they were in plenty also symbolizes the valueone give to precious things. The speaker says, “We knew we’dlast forever”, an indication that they did not contemplate to losetheir loved. They also say, “The daffodils were incidental gildingof the deeds/ treasure trove/ they simply came, and they keptcoming.” Thus, through the daffodils, the reader sees thetemporality of life.

Hughesalso uses metaphors and similes as the imagery to assert the theme.The first simile is, “it sounds like sacrilege” (12). Sacrilegeis an act of misusing or being wasteful to something that isconsidered a treasure. True to the speaker’s first life beforethey lost their partner, they extravagantly sold daffodils thinkingit would last forever. The simile aims to demonstrate who scarce andrare daffodils have become long after the speaker’s lover died. The loss is synonymous to the precious life they shared together.Metaphor is also present in Hughes’ choice of words. The speakersays, “The same baby cries from the haw/ ballerinas too early forthe music, shiverers” (12). The simile and metaphors liken thepassion that the speaker and their dead lover had for each other toballerina dancers that rushed on stage even before music starts toplay. The ‘same baby-cries from the thaw” (12) refers to thefamiliarity of the speaker to the daffodils that flourished duringwinter.

Hughes’choice of words was mainly symbolic and laid a lot of emphasis onalliteration and the personification of objects. The choice to usealliteration and personification to illustrate and emphasize thenostalgia the speaker felt about their lover is remarkable. Forexample, Hughes writes, “Treasure trove/Boss-eyed, hisblood-pressure purpling to beetroot”(12), the first wordsillustrate how much the speaker has lost over time and seems never toregain it while the second metaphoric also illustrates the fondmemories of another character, the grocer that died just around thesame time as the speaker’s lover.

Themain themes in the poem include the agony of loss, nostalgia, memory,and remorse. Nostalgia is the dominant theme. The speaker recollectsthe great moments they had with their lover which has since faded thesame way daffodils do every season. The theme of agony and remorseare right in tandem of each other. While the speaker has agony aboutthe loss of their loved one, they are also remorseful for wasting thegreat moments they could have spent together. This is symbolized inthe extravagance with which they sold the daffodils and yet it is soscarce at the moment. All aspects of the poem enhance these themes asdescribed above. The choice of words, the speaker’s tone, and useof similes and metaphors reflect the thoughts and thematicinclinations of the poet.


Hughes,Ted. Birthdayletters.Faber &amp Faber, 2009.