I’ve been studying Dorothy Wordsworth this morning. She is the sister of the British great, William Wordsworth. Both Wordsworths were close friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Come to find out, many of the journal entries of Dorothy are included in the works of William Wordsworth and Coleridge. They stole many of her observations! She had a very keen eye and a knack for object description. Although she was never published in her life, she has since been recognized for her role in literary history. She explained writing some of her poems because “I shall give William pleasure by it.”
While reading her journals I am thinking she was a predecesor to the great Annie Dillard. I like to think I share both of these women’s love for all things natural. I aim to have their abilities in describing the physical world. Someday.
Dorothy eventually ended up having a mental collapse in 1835; her brother, William, cared for her for 20 years until he died. She had suffered a severe personality alteration. Once viviacious and sweet, she became insufferable as an invalid and would act aggressively. My text blamed her mental breakdown on being overworked during her entire adult life, playing secretary to her brother and helper of his household. (Norton Anthology of English Lit. Vol. 2, p. 403) As a mother of five, being overworked is something I can identify with on a cellular level. I am so grateful I have modern medicine to assist with my own brain chemistry. So many great writers were shamefully stagnated by their lunacy.
A Poetess’ Hamartia
My dearest dad I cannot go
unless I can see as now.
The hues of yellow as they infuse
upon the palish brough.
But child of mine, sharp poetess
impossible it ’tis for thee
a mortal mind is far too fragile
to perceive that kind of beauty.
I shall not go then, father fixed
I cannot bear the break
Seeing and hearing the pink petticoats
All lifelong without, I’d ache
Okay sweet one, but you must go
A concession I’ll make to you.
But there will be a price to pay
For omniscient skills so true
Oh thanks daddy, please do make it so
Thy sight is vital to my soul
Creation must not be concealed from me
I accept the price and toll.
All right my lovely keeper of British countryside
Thy eyes will stay immortal to see
but thy mortal mind won’t always understand
Sentinel keen, thou on earth will be.
I’ll be crazy. I’ll be haunted.
I will take the pain and mental stops
Confusion may come and invalid me
in my millions of diamond drops.