Monday, March 2, 2009

Project 4 Speech - Daffodils

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high over vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;”
These lines of Wordsworth have motivated me to speak about Daffodils today. Till recently Daffodils were an arcane subject for me. Other than the fact that a Daffodil is a kind of flower, I hardly knew anything else about it. But I felt that, being a member of Daffodils Toastmasters club I definitely needed to learn more about Daffodil the flower. Today I will share with all of you what I learnt about daffodils.

So let me start with a story. Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology, was very much in love with himself. You might have heard about Narcissus syndrome. Once he saw his reflection in water. He stood their stunned, stupified and spellbound admiring at it for a long long time, till he passed away. It is said that later Daffodils bloomed on that spot. That’s the reason the botanical name for Daffodils is Narcissus.

Daffodils are delightful, gorgeous flowers with a sweet fragrance. They have inspired many poets to write about them. In Hindi they are called Nargis. In several old Hindi film songs, the beauty and charm of the heroines are compared to that of Nargis i.e. Daffodils. I can recollect a couple of them here - “Kisi Nargisi Nazar ko Dil Denge Hum” (I will loose my heart to someone wiho gazes like a Daffodil) and “Aye Nargis – E- Mastana, Bus Itni Shikayat Hai” (O Merry Daffodil, I have just one complaint!).

Daffodils were first grown in second century B.C., near Mediterranean Sea. Egyptians used them in funerals to honor their dead. Romans grew them in greenhouses to decorate their homes. By early nineteenth century around the time Wordsworth wrote the famous poem on Daffodils, they had become very popular in Europe, Britain and America. They were grown in almost in all the homes and meadows.

Daffodils are generally golden yellow in color. But some varieties may have different shades of yellows, golds and whites. Daffodil plants are about 2 feet tall with 5-inch blooms. They are poisonous, so they escape being eaten by pests. Their stems are thin and triangular in crossection. This shape enables them to twist and turn easily. So when the wind blows over them, it looks as if the daffodils are dancing. They present a spectacular sight, which inspired Wordsworth to write
“Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”

Shelly wrote, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”. After a dull cold winter, the first flowers to bloom and lead you into the colorful spring are Daffodils. In a way they are very similar to a Toastmasters club. Just like Daffodils, the Toastmasters club leads you from winter of nervousness and stage fright to the spring of public speaking excellence. There is one more similarity between Daffodils and Toastmasters clubs. A Daffodil flower looks like a loudspeaker of a vintage record player. It looks as if it is urging you to shed your inhibition and speak out your views, your thoughts and your experiences that are recorded within you. In my opinion the founders could not have chosen a better name for our club.

I have heard people say that they enjoy and have more fun in Daffodils Toastmasters club as compared to other clubs. So here is a tribute to the jovial spirit of all Daffodilites. These lines are again by Wordsworth, slightly modified by me:
“The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
I could not but be merry, [Original: A poet could not but be gay]
In such a jocund company:
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And Dances with the daffodils”
[Date Delivered: 28 February 2009

  • Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly.
  • Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas.
  • Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words. Use correct grammar.
Time Allotted: Five to seven minutes.