- What is the poem about?
- Why was the poem written?
- What is the poet trying to do?
- How is the reader made to feel?
- How are the reader’s thoughts shaped / manipulated?
The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind; An Autobiographical Poem is an autobiographical conversation poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth.
The Prelude is an extremely personal and revealing work on the details of Wordsworth’s life. Wordsworth began The Prelude in 1798 at the age of 28 and continued to work on it throughout his life.
…referred to it as “the poem on the growth of my own mind”.
…for the last part of his life, Wordsworth had been “polishing the style and qualifying some of its radical statements about the divine sufficiency of the human mind in its communion with nature”
According to Monique R. Morgan’s … “Much of the poem consists of Wordsworth’s interactions with nature that ‘assure[d] him of his poetic mission.’ The goal of the poem is to demonstrate his fitness to produce great poetry, and The Prelude itself becomes evidence of that fitness.”
It traces the growth of the poet’s mind by stressing the mutual consciousness and spiritual communion between the world of nature and man.
The work is a poetic reflection on Wordsworth’s own sense of his poetic vocation as it developed over the course of his life.
Wordsworth chooses his own mind and imagination as a subject worthy of epic.
Wordsworth’s Prelude opens with a literal journey [during his manhood] whose chosen goal […] is the Vale of Grasmere. The Prelude narrates a number of later journeys, most notably the crossing of the Alps in Book VI and, in the beginning of the final book, the climactic ascent of Snowdon. In the course of the poem, such literal journeys become the metaphorical vehicle for a spiritual journey—the quest within the poet’s memory”.
The Prelude is considered by some to be Wordsworth’s greatest masterpiece, since it embodies the spirit of Romanticism so well.
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalisation of nature
The movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature.
In contrast to the rational and Classicist ideal models, Romanticism revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval in an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism.
Romanticism assigned a high value to the achievements of “heroic” individualists and artists, whose examples, it maintained, would raise the quality of society. It also promoted the individual imagination as a critical authority allowed of freedom from classical notions of form in art.
In the second half of the 19th century, Realism was offered as a polar opposite to Romanticism.