The Prelude is William Wordsworth’s long autobiographical poem, written in blank verse, which is addressed to Coleridge. Originally intended as an introduction to The Recluse, a vast poem Wordsworth would never complete, The Prelude was remodelled and reworked by the poet over the course of his life (and its earlier radicalism toned down by the older man). A first draft of thirteen books was completed by 1805, but by his later years this was increased to fourteen.
The poem deals with the poet’s infancy, his schooling, Cambridge, his walking tour of the Alps, and his reaction to the revolution in France. In it Wordsworth pays particular attention to the significance of childhood experience.
The text of this ebook edition is based on the third volume of The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth published in 1850. Unlike other ebook editions, which are merely copies of existing print editions, this edition has been completely reformatted for optimal reading on an electronic reader. For ease of reading, this edition does not include variations to poem based on the 1799 and 1805 versions. Instead, we recommend scholars refer to alternate editions of the poem if they require details of those texts.
We have attempted to limit each page to ten lines (however this is dictated by the length of the notes). Where possible notes are provided on the same page as the verse they refer to. This is to facilitate ease of reference, and is unique to this edition. Notes are indicated by a bracketed letter: eg [a]. The footnotes include omitted or additional stanzas, together with material useful to the general reader. We have attempted to hyperlink all non-fiction secondary material to its original source via archive.org.
The footnotes are based on the work of William Knight, editor of the 1850 volume, which have been revised and expanded for this edition.