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Beginning The Prelude

Professor Keith Hanley from Lancaster University recites the opening lines of the earliest version of Wordsworth's "The Prelude".

Listen to Professor Keith Hanley reading the opening lines of the earliest version of The Prelude (sometimes called the ‘1799 Prelude’ or the ‘Two-Part Prelude’).

This is quite a difficult passage of poetry but don’t worry if you find it hard to understand – we will try and explain it in the next step.

As you listen to and/or read the passage, you might like to think about the following issues and questions:

  • The passage is structured as a series of questions. What do you think these questions mean?
  • How do the opening lines of the poem link Wordsworth’s past and present selves?
  • In the passage, Wordsworth describes his earliest memories. What are they?
  • What value does Wordsworth give to memory and childhood?
  • What are the main forms of nature Wordsworth describes here? What value does he give to nature?
  • Thinking beyond the poem, what is your own earliest memory?
  • Why is it significant for you?
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William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

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