Dorothy Wordsworth was born in December 1771 and died in 1855. She was the sister of William Wordsworth, who she remained close to for the majority of their lives. Their parents died when they were young, leading her and her siblings to be distributed among relatives. She attended Miss Medlin’s school and read works by Shakespeare and Milton. She was reunited with William in 1795 and they became inseparable. THey lived together in Somerset until William married in 1802, after which Dorothy continued to reside with her brother and his wife. Dorothy never married. She was an avid diarist and poet, but her works were never published while she was alive. Her works were collected posthumously and published. In her later years, her physical and mental health deteriorated and she became addicted to laudanum. She died at the age of eighty-three.
Floating Island by Dorothy Wordsworth
This poem marks Dorothy’s passion for nature as she discusses a time she glimpsed a fleeting island, and uncovers what it means to her. The island is its own sustained environment, with only Nature being an opposing force that could change the way it exists. Nature could make the island disappear forever, or it could leave it be for a while longer. Dorothy talks of how this fleetingness affects her understanding of time and beauty.
It also makes a point at how something that can sustain itself is not completely immune to powers larger than itself. I can’t help but wonder if Dorothy is making a political statement using the island to represent a population, and Nature to represent government or war. Perhaps she is trying to say that the way things are now will not last forever because powers larger than ourselves will not allow it to, and we must enjoy it now before it is gone.