Published posthumously in July 1850, three months after the death of William Wordsworth, The Prelude was the culmination of over fifty years of creative effort. Taking its central subject as “the growth of a poet’s mind”, The Prelude is an autobiographical poem that details the development of Wordsworth as a poet. It represents Wordsworth’s most sustained self-examination and his spiritual exploration of human nature. The poem is, in Stephen Gill’s perceptive words, “a self-conscious artefact” (1991, p. 3).
The Prelude is a product inspired by Wordsworth’s “dear Friend”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and was intended to be an introduction or “preparatory poem” to the greater philosophical epic, The Recluse. Coleridge referred to The Prelude in his letter to Lady Beaumont
Citation: Lo, Yimon. "The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet's Mind". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 19 May 2020 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7439, accessed 09 December 2023.]