Literary Criticism on The Prelude Books 1 & 2

Also Read

      (1) Helen Darbishire: The Prelude represents the height of Wordsworth’s poetic achievement in one direction. It is a long poem, and a great poem, conveying high meditation on a basis of personal experience. It has a unity of design which depends upon the essential integrity of its subject. That subject is not My Life, but The Making of a Poet. Its virtue lies in its power to express, what Edward Irving, speaking of Wordsworthian in a sermon called The deep unfathomable secrecies of human thought. The instrument he used for this purpose was a kind of blank verse, familiar yet impassioned, which could rise with a natural ease from simple personal narrative to exalted meditation.

      (2) Emile Legouis: “Destined never to write more than mere fragments of it (i.e. The Recluse) he began with The Prelude in which he analyzed the growth of his poetic genius during his childhood and youth and recalled the lessons he owed to Nature, his first and greatest teacher.”

      (3) Olive Elton: The Prelude is laid out not unlike an epic, with episodes and vicissitudes and a climax, in fourteen books. It is skilfully ordered for its purpose, for it begins at the end; the poet, at the age of twenty-nine, is now safe in heaven and relates his long past voyage of the soul and imagination.

      (4) Herbert Read: “Its greatness does not consist in its autobiographical veracity. It is not a true poem in that sense. Rather it is a deliberate mask. It is an idealization of the poet’s life not the reality (in Wordsworth).”

      (5) Ernest De Selincourt: As it stands, The Prelude has not merely unity of design; it has something of structure.

      (6) Dobson: The Prelude is Wordsworth’s message to mankind and this message is the attainment of a noble and just life through the contemplation of nature, in which, as in man, the infinite stands revealed.

      (7) W. Graham: His method, if that is the right word, is to trace the growth of an experience with such particularity that he recreates in the reader the emotional state of the boy who is living it, so that the reader himself, in the process of sharing the experience, learns something of Wordsworth’s feeling of intimacy, with natural objects and follows the growth of the poet’s minds.

      (8) Herbert Read: The Prelude is the greatest poem of Wordsworth. It puts before us a panorama of Wordsworth’s various stages of poetic career. Beginning from the recollections of his early childhood, ending with his philosophical approach to Nature and God, the poem enshrines within itself the entire cult of Wordsworthism....The Prelude, undoubtedly, places before us Wordsworth—the revolutionary; Wordsworth—the man; Wordsworth—the poet: and finally Wordsworth—the high priest of nature.

      (9) Abercrombie: It is a story of universal significance of which Wordsworth’s own unique experience is offered as the type. It is the story of mind, greatly conscious of its own enigma, gradually establishing its secure relationship with a world equally enigmatic. This is the modern epic: this is the heroic strain of to-day, the great theme of man’s experiences; and grandly The Prelude, its first enunciation.

Previous Post Next Post