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The great Romantic poem of human consciousness, The Prelude takes place as its theme 'the growth of a poet's mind.' In its search for the origins of the adult personality, The Prelude takes the reader back to the formative moments of childhood and youth: the baby at the breast, the boy ranging over the Cumbrian fells, the revolutionary undergraduate. In many ways it can be seen as the first modern poem, challenging Milton as its redevinition of epic, as Milton challenged Homer and Viril This new Penguin English Poets edition of The Prelude contains the brief first draft, Was It for This, composed in 1798; The Prelude in two books completed in 1799; and The Prelude in its 1805 and 1850 versions, printed here in parallel texts. The editor provides an invaluable introductin to the exts and fuller, more detailed mnotes than in any previous edition, as well as significant textual variants and a biographical table of dates.
First published in July 1850, shortly after Wordsworth's death, The Prelude was the culmination of over fifty years of creative work. The great Romantic poem of human consciousness, it takes as its theme 'the growth of a poet's mind': leading the reader back to Wordsworth's formative moments of childhood and youth, and detailing his experiences as a radical undergraduate in France at the time of the Revolution. Initially inspired by Coleridge's exhortation that Wordsworth write a work upon the French Revolution, The Prelude has ultimately become one of the finest examples of poetic autobiography ever written; a fascinating examination of the self that also presents a comprehensive view of the poet's own creative vision.
William Wordsworth was born in the Lake District in 1770 and died there eighty years later in 1850. He had three brothers and a sister, Dorothy, to whom he was extremely close. As an undergraduate at Cambridge, Wordsworth travelled widely and wrote poetry. He spent his twenties as a wanderer in France, Wales, London, the Lakes, Dorset and Germany. In France he fathered a child who he did not meet until she was nine, due to the war. In 1795 he was reunited with Dorothy and met Coleridge, who was to be a particular influence on his poetry. He became Poet Laureate in 1843. Jonathan Wordsworth is descended from William's younger brother Christopher, is Chairman of the Wordsworth Trust and a Lecturer in Romantic Studies at Oxford.