Analyze Dorothy Wordsworth's poem "Floating Island."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Dorothy Wordsworth's poem “Floating Island” offers a charming reflection upon the natural world while at the same time noting that nature is always changing.

Wordsworth begins with a description of the “harmonious Powers” of nature that work together to keep the cycle of life in operation. The speaker then...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

Dorothy Wordsworth's poem “Floating Island” offers a charming reflection upon the natural world while at the same time noting that nature is always changing.

Wordsworth begins with a description of the “harmonious Powers” of nature that work together to keep the cycle of life in operation. The speaker then recalls how once she saw a floating island that had somehow become detached from its moorings and was now driven by the wind. The island was home to trees, birds, flowers, and insects, all of which relied on this fragile island for sustenance. The little island, however, eventually sank. Nature took it away, and it slid beneath the lake. It was not, however, completely lost, for fragments of it “shall remain, / To fertilize some other ground.” It will still be part of the cycle of life.

We can see, then, that one of the primary themes of this poem is the power of nature and its ever-changing cycle of life. Wordsworth also, however, uses the island as a symbol for human life, which is caught up in the cycle of nature and eventually passes away, just like the island.

In terms of form and structure, the poem consists of seven stanzas of four lines each. Each stanza follows an abcb rhyme scheme, but Wordsworth's rhymes are not always exact. Look at “survive” and “give” in the fifth stanza, for instance. The poem's meter is largely iambic tetrameter, but Wordsworth does not set her meter in stone. There are lines that vary from the normal pattern. Notice the fourth line in the sixth stanza as an example.

Finally, let's think about the poetic devices in this poem. We've already identified symbolism. We can also notice personification, especially with regard to nature and its elements. Metaphor is present, too, for the poet describes the island as a world and a “tiny room.”

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on