Discuss “The Prelude” As An Autobiographical Poem



William Wordsworth, the greatest poet of the 19th century Romantic Revival, wrote The Prelude, a long autobiographical poem in fourteen books, in 1800, when he was thirty years old and at the height of his poetic talent. If Matthew Arnold is correct in his observation of him, then Wordsworth’s best poetry came for ten years, between 1798 and 1808, and of the ‘best’ poems of his The Prelude, for volume, philosophy, the seriousness of purpose, and tonal quality are also the ‘biggest’. [‘Wordsworth composed verses during a space of about sixty years; and it is no exaggeration to say that within one In the only decade of those years, between 1798 and 1808, almost all of his works were really of the highest order. work was produced.’] This long poem of 7,883 lines in blank verse is an epic of a very special kind: his ‘story’ is in the story of the growth of a ‘spirit’, the development not of a conscience, the evolution of a sensitive mind.

William Wordsworth’s Early Life

William Wordsworth was born April 7, 1770 in Cockermouth, and his sister Dorothy, with whom he maintained close and friendly relations throughout his poetic career, was born on September 25 of the following year, in the same place. Guillaume lost his mother in 1778 and his father in 1783. The spirit of classicism was declining in English The literature of the last decades of the century, and in Germany, the work of Goethe Werther, which was a reference in European romantic literature, was published in 1774, and the Confessions of Rousseau which had no less influence on romanticism poets of England were born in 1781. And a very important event, the American Declaration of Independence, took place in 1776.

William Wordsworth’s Poetic Life begins

Wordsworth’s first published poem, Sonnet, On Seeing Miss Helen Maria Willians Weep ar a Tate of Distress appeared in The European Magazine in March 1787. A Evening Walk was written the year the French Revolution began with the taking of Bastille (1789). In 1790 Wordsworth made a walking tour of France. he returned to England early in 1791 and he returned to France at the end of the year to see the revolutionaries fervor in Paris. He had a love affair with Annette Vallon and her daughter.

Caroline was born in December 1792. She Composed Descriptive Sketches in 1793 and returned to England to seek a livelihood. Godwin’s political justice was published the same year, and the spirit of inquiry and inquiry took on artistic form in 1794 in the publication of Blake’s Songs of Experience. In 1795 Wordsworth and Coleridge became close to each other, which ultimately resulted in their joint authorship of the lyrical ballads (1798). This same year Wordsworth wrote some autobiographical verse that was the foundation of The Prelude. This last decade of the 181h century saw a reign of terror in France with the meteoric rise of Napoleon.


Wordsworth had the ambition to write a “great” poem – very long, very rich, containing all his thoughts, and the story of the maturation of his poetic sensibility, an epic at the same time personal, national and universal. But he could never write this poem. Attempts remained unfinished. The Prelude was designed to be the Prelude to this poem. Throughout his life he continued to revise The Prektde but was able not publish it. When it was published posthumously, critics did not hesitate to call it a “great” poem. Wordsworth’s largest and having wonderful coverage and depth and variety. Much of its content, of course, is found in the poem Tintern Abbey.

Wordsworth continued to work on The Prelude, his longest poem, throughout his life and rewriting it, copying it often, modifying it, rearranging it and revising it, but never published it during his lifetime. Although it is a complete poem, a declaration, he always toyed with the thought that it was only a “prelude” to a longer poem. La Recluse, which he could never finish. The Prelude is much longer than the unfinished poem of which it was supposed to be the prelude. This caused embarrassment in the poet and this is perhaps one of the reasons why he was never able publish The Prelude.

The poem has a complicated textual history. The poet worked on it at intervals during over forty years. The first drafts were written in 1798 and the last on a large scale a revision was made in 1839. In 1799 a short version of the poem was published in two parts. In 1805 Wordsworth wrote the whole thing but did not give the poem a Name. It was just ‘a poem to Coleridge’: Wordsworth wanted to hear a few words from the appreciation of his friend so that he could be satisfied with the composition of The Recluse.

The 1850 Prelude is the result of three large-scale reworkings of the poem, and many minor revisions. The poem was finally printed just ten weeks after Wordsworth’s death. In terms of stylistic quality and torte, the 1850 poem is very different of that of 1805. Continuing revision has greatly improved it. In this unit we have to discuss the final version of the poem. The Prelude of 1805 has thirteen Books while the final version has fourteen. The first Book is titled Introduction: Childhood and the School – The Time and the last Book is the Conclusion which comes just after the Book on the Imagination.

The Prelude is a landmark in English literary history because it is a prodigious work whose meaning is revealed to successive generations in various ways.

The subtitle of The I Prelude, ‘Growth of a Poet’s Mind’ is also very significant, Romanticism in Europe was a very varied thing, but one thing was common to all the literature of the time: psychological explorations. The human mind, all romantic writers believed, was the center of the divine plan, the arena of the struggle of Good and Evil.

It’s a strange thing, and each discovery of its recesses is a thrill. And the poet has a richer, more sensitive, and dynamic mind than anyone else, in his creativity, he is similar to God; and so the study of the growth of a poet’s mind is not just a thrill itself, but also a religious pursuit, a study of divinity. The human mind is the arena of all tragedy and all comedy, of all history, the meaning of which is the continual drama of fall and redemption.

From childhood to adulthood, this spirit, through its experiences and responses, reaches maturity, form, and dimension, the sensitivity of perception and intensity of feeling. In the case of a poet, the acquisition is greater than in the case of anyone else. The moral being of man depends on how the mind has worked and from what sources it drew its lifeblood. The poet remembers the past incidents and their impact on his mind.

Stephen Gill says, “Memory is both the agent through which the poet explores his past, thus linking all the phases of his being and the power that holds and enhances the moments of experience which, Wordsworth obverse, haunt the adult with an inexplicable redemptive power. They are spots of time which preserve with a clear pre-eminence a renovating virtue”.

The Prelude speaks of the poet himself; and therefore it is autobiographical. it’s about the nature and function of the human mind; it is therefore psychological; it gives some moral conclusion; so it’s didactic; it is about the infinite power and harmony of nature; so it’s spiritual; it is an attempt to define the role and potentiality of
imagination, and therefore it is intellectual.

Even with all these aspects of the Prelude, a often doubts its social relevance, its relationship to its time and to its current events. But we must remember that The Prelude is a poem of self-awareness and the search for written identity at a time when the whole of Europe, under the nightmare of Napoleonic assaults, was looking for a stable identity, a solid system of values. In this senses.

The Prelude is the most representative work not only of English romanticism but also of the European experience and its attendant romantic idealism. W.J.Harvey goes so far as to say, “The world of The Prelude is not just the world of the spirit in communion with Nature; it is also the world of the university, the metropolis and the arena of power and politics.

Wordsworth spent his entire life to perfect the poem” which in turn absorbed all the new ideas and experiences which came to the poet and eventually became a solid body of poetic work which has embodied the story of humanity standing at the crossroads of selfishness and
humanism, science and imagination, adventure and utilitarianism, materialism and spiritualism. The Prelude is mankind’s last and most fervent attempt to discover ‘pure joy’ in life.

The poem is an autobiography. As a chronological narrative, the poem is a narrative of the growth of the poet’s mind to the point where he conceived The Recluse in 1798. Through revisions from 1798 to 1805, the poem takes on a form and character which was different from when the poem was conceived. Naturally so,
because Wordsworth who started The Prelude was not the Wordsworth who finished this. The first two parts deal with his experiences of childhood and youth, and in the following parts, the emphasis is on the growth of the mind, the experience of its his beginnings had remained engraved in his mind, and he went to France to have directly contact with the Revolution, saw the cities of France and England, heard with pain “the still sad music” of humanity “, returned to England and his friends, realized the most fundamental truths of life and formulated his philosophy of nature.


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