Dorothy Wordsworth, in Her Brother's Shadow

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In Her Brother's Shadow The Art and Craft of Dorothy Wordsworth Dorothy Wordsworth was a woman who was quite content to live her life in the shadow of her brother William Wordsworth and their friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. As such, she does not challenge the predominantly patriarchal social construct -- the established male-dominant gender roles -- of her generation. In fact, Dorothy seems to relish those aspects of Nature which model feminine beauty, grace, and sensibility. This point of view is reflected in her lyric poem, "Thoughts on My Sickbed," believed to have been written in May of 1832. "Thoughts on My Sickbed" opens with Dorothy Wordsworth eloquently expressing her own sense of mortality. A lyric poem utilizing the ballad stanza -- a quatrain in which only the second and fourth lines rhyme -- it has a beauty and natural grace of flowing lines and many references to the beauty and healing properties of Nature. To Dorothy, Nature has "mothering," "nurturing," and "healing" (i.e., feminine) characteristics, as she writes: And has the remnant of my life Been pilfered of this sunny Spring? And have its own prelusive sounds Touched in my heart no echoing string? Ah, say not so--the hidden life, Couchant within this feeble frame, Hath been enriched by kindred gifts, That undesired, unsought-for, came The above stanzas additionally exemplify Dorothy's concept of the aesthetics of the Romantic Period -- a continuation and further exploration of the earlier Age of Sensibility -- which are shown by Dorothy's lines: No!--then I never felt a bliss That might with that compare Which, piercing to my couch of rest, Came on the vernal air. The poem, "Thoughts on My Sickbed," also makes references to Dorothy's brother William's lyrical ballads. Dorothy's line, "The daffodil dancing in the breeze," and also her lines,

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