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The Prelude

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  2,124 ratings  ·  63 reviews
This book is the first to present Wordsworth's greatest poem in all three of its separate form. It reprints, on facing pages, the version of "The Prelude" was was completed in 1805, together with the much-revised work published after the poet's death in 1850. In addition the editors include the two-part version of the poem, composed 1798-99. Each of these poems has its dis ...more
Paperback, Norton Critical Edition, 704 pages
Published December 17th 1979 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1800)
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Turns out I like The Prelude a lot. But I still wouldn't invite Wordsworth to a party at my place.
Darran Mclaughlin
It took me a long time to read this. It's pretty clear what the constant stimulation of the digital age has done to my ability to concentrate and read epic poetry.

Wordsworth has always been my least favourite of the great sextet of English Romantic poets. I found his lyrical ballads to be a bit lachrymose, sentimental and prosey. However, I went to the Lake District for the first time a couple of weeks ago so I decided to read this as part of the whole experience. As it turns out it is great. T
Rachel Ann Brickner
I finally finished The Prelude for the first time through, but I will be reading it again for class in the next few weeks. I'm hoping a second reading will be helpful and give me a greater appreciation for the poem. I really disliked reading this poem because of the blank verse and its long, complicated sentences until Book XI of the 1805 version. I read the last three Books this evening and they gave me a greater appreciation for Wordsworth's project than I initially had. The last three Books r ...more
Why did it take me so long to come to this book? Wordsworth has been looming large my entire English Literature life, and I've just outright avoided him. 7 years into my degree, I finally read The Prelude and I was astonished and charmed. I loved the first two books, felt liberated by the third - I actually cried realizing that others have experienced the things I've never spoken about - and then. THEN. I came to Book 13, to the end of book 13 - and my imagination got on board, left nature and e ...more
When people saw me reading this everyone would ask "Prelude to WHAT?" after seeing the lengthy poem. This is a hundreds of page long poem about Wordsworth's formative years--he worked on this until his death revising it every few years.

Has anyone ever said that Wordsworth writing an epic length poem about his youth could be viewed as somewhat. . .maybe. . .egocentric? All these stories are laid out to the reader with the express intention to be a lesson to she who reads it.

Actually it comes off
Moony Amari
just one single star for the effort I made to read it. well, I love poetry!! but for sure not Wordsworth's -_-
Meaghan E
I love this edition. The facing-page versions of both 1805 and 1850 are so handy and useful, making it so easy to see how one publication differed from the other. Like so many others I imagine, I'm in love with the 1805 version. Still, I was glad to have the 1850 immediately next to the 1805, in order to make that distinction for myself. I had read the 1805 this past summer and am now reading it again more closely. It's clear to me that this work was/is of major importance. If anything could ind ...more
I'm afraid I absolutely deplore Wordsworth. As his name would imply, he is a man of many words. WAY TOO MANY WORDS. He loses his reader his 13 BOOKS of verse semi-autobiography. What could have been an interesting and intriguing work turned into a lengthy, diluted, contrived, mess. I completely blame his friend Coleridge for encouraging him in any way. Please avoid at all costs.
Eddie Watkins
I have read and loved The Prelude, but that was years ago, and as I now reread the copy I once read I decided to get this copy instead and get real geeky about it.
Now living, or to live in future years.
Sometimes the ambitious Power of choice, mistaking
Proud spring-tide swellings for a regular sea,
Will settle on some British theme, some old
Romantic tale by Milton left unsung;
More often turning to some gentle place
Within the groves of Chivalry

This is a beautiful inclusion of Milton, whose works spoke to Wordsworth.

Life in one's youth truly is a fantasy, when cares and problems are nowhere to be found--Wordsworth shares his love of those days in a tr
J. Alfred
William Wordsworth created an epic, in blank verse, of his own life. It is sort of a poetic, kindly version of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." What you'll be surprised at, when you read this, however, is how little you learn about Wordsworth as a person, and how much you learn about what Wordsworth thinks about people-- even in doing something that seems extremely egotistical, he shows us ourselves more than himself.
With the possible exceptions of Hopkins and Herbert, Wordsworth has
Liz Wager
have been reading this, on and off, for a while ... after hearing Ian McKellan reading it on the radio ...
May 15, 2009 Magda added it
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Brett Hilton
I probably like the idea behind The Prelude - the development of the mind and its worthiness of an epic - more than I actually enjoyed reading this text. I found the English of this text more difficult to read than that of Paradise Lost for some reason, despite its relative youth. As such, it took me a very long time to get through the poem in its entirety. I did enjoy the "spots of time", though, where Wordsworth makes connections between the experiential and the spiritual or universal and rema ...more
some of the language was so freaking pretty, and sometimes when he described the lakes the waterfalls... it was perfect picture in my mind, like I was actually there. In parts, I loved this.

However, a large portion of it was un-intelligible to me, so two stars it is.

I feel like if I was smarter I would have enjoyed this more....

When it's on, man, the Prelude is on. When it's off... it's really off. I say this about all long poems, so let me specify this particular case: there will be four pages in a row where the remembered scenes are great, the language awes, and the theme clicks. Then there will be six pages where it does not. Some sections do better than others: the first and last are strong, as expected (I also liked 2, 3, 6, and 12 a lot). Nonetheless, a lot of the time - despite its progression - it felt rather r ...more
Wordsworth's autobiography in verse.

The ending reminded me of how I feel about teaching (when I'm extremely caffeinated and in a top-of-the-world kind of mood... i.e., 12 percent of the time).

. . .we to them will speak
A lasting inspiration, sanctified
By reason, blest by faith: what we have loved
Others will love, and we will teach them how,
Instruct them how the mind of man becomes
A thousand times more beautiful than the earth
On which he dwells above this Frame of things
(Which 'mid all revolution
Chas Bayfield
Found this too haughty and dwelling too long and too deep on intangible ideas, beliefs and emotions. Then again, that was 25 years ago!
"Instruct them how the mind of man becomes / A thousand times more beautiful than the earth / On which it dwells [.../] and of fabric more divine" (Wordsworth 482)! And thus wrote the great poet.

O, Wordsworth, I just don't know yet what to say! Only, for now, that you make me feel so large, so infinite, so imbued with meaning, so free of human-made/human-enforced "puny boundaries," so capable of doing something powerful.

241 pages of poetry, experience and memory. I am in awe. I will have a more
As my first look at pastoral poetry I may have been dived right in the deep end but as I will be studying this next year it has given me an insight into this genre of poetry.
Drew Rupard
this gives a good idea of what kind of guy WW is. read this to understand him before you read his other stuff, I say
May 11, 2014 Mitchell marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!
This comment is on the 1850 version of The Prelude, not others or Norton's criticism/apparatus. Perhaps a slog to some contemporary readers, but brilliant, beautiful and often sublime and deeply insightful. That’s not to say it's completely without contradiction or that it presents a coherent system of thought (or is consistently brilliant and beautiful). But it’s rich in food for thought, sometimes viewed from very unusual perspectives, and in an uncannily earthy yet simultaneously other-worldl ...more
I read Book VII of this for a literature seminar about London. I'll be honest: I'm not into poetry. I love literature, and I love reading, but poetry is just one genre that I cannot seem to appreciate; it doesn't touch me. But to each their own, right? While reading it before said seminar, I was really bored and almost literally fell asleep at the library. I thought I would be just as bored in class, but I underestimated my wonderful professor who made the studying of this extract fun and worth ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Sir Ian McKellen reads Wordsworth's autobiographical poem. Recorded in Dove Cottage, where it was written.
Savannah Golden
The Prelude is Wordsworth’s longest compilation of poems that shows all of his Romantic ideals from romance and nature to poetry its self. Saying that poetry should be written in simple language rather then flowery, over dramatized language. However I did find it tough to read at times. His topics range from childhood, to the future, to love, and to death. His use of blank verse and imagery make it a great work to read under a tree by a lake. This work made me love poetry, Wordsworth, and Romant ...more
Derek Baad
Oct 17, 2008 Derek Baad rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: romantics, Wordsworth fanatics
Finally done with this one, and I can't say I'm unhappy. Did I like it? Not sure I can answer that one. I had to read it so fast that I can't say the density of Wordsworth's thought penetrated too deeply. He is still one of my favorite poets, and I've been looking to take this on for a long time, but I'm glad it's over. I will definitely be returning to a few of its chapters, especially the early ones.
I think I would have liked this better if I had more time to read it and really think on it. As it was it was dense and hard to follow, though the poetry was beautiful. I found that listening to it helped a lot so sometime I might go back and reread it while listening to it.

(just a note: my rating is on my personal enjoyment of reading the work, not on its quality or importance of the work.)
Luke Harris
One of the first texts we were forced to read at university, and instantly turned me away from Wordsworth. I have never really been a fan of the romantic poets, and throwing you into them at the very start of university didn't help my opinion. I don't exactly remember it very well, I just remember strongly disliking it, which was probably due to a combination of bad timing and freshers flu.
Lucas Millan
I just found out I love Romantic literature, but hate reading Romantic literature. Their ideas, concepts, philosophy in general sound amazing on a literature class, but their new ideas were really dull on the paper, or at least that's what you can think nowadays. This is a great piece, don't get me wrong, but reading it was really boring.
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William Wordsworth was a major English romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their 1798 joint publication, Lyrical Ballads.

Wordsworth's masterpiece is generally considered to be The Prelude, an autobiographical poem of his early years which the poet revised and expanded a number of times. The work was posthumously titled and publ
More about William Wordsworth...
Lyrical Ballads The Major Works The Works of William Wordsworth (Wordsworth Collection) Selected Poetry of William Wordsworth Ode: Intimations Of Immortality From Recollections Of Early Childhood

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“Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven.”
“The earth was all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way.”
More quotes…