How did Wordsworth arrive at the choice of subject for the Prelude?

Essay by aimzy December 2003

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In Paragraph 6 Wordsworth contemplates ideas for the poem. He sets off with a positive frame of mind preparing to write, "For such an arduous work, I through myself make rigorous inquisition, the report is often cheering" he seems positive about the challenge he has set himself. We follow the changes within Wordsworth's mind through the lists he includes and the thorough detail he applies "Will settle on some British theme, some old Romantic tale by Milton left unsung" this effect reflects his ideas flowing to the reader.

Wordsworth referred to the poet Milton, who had planned to write an epic poem known as Paradise Lost. The blank-verse poem in ten books appeared in 1667; a second edition, in which Milton reorganized the original ten books into twelve, appeared in 1674. It was greatly admired by Milton's contemporaries and has since then been considered the greatest epic poem in the English language. This indicates that Wordsworth may be considering producing an epic poem himself.

He begins to think more deeply and starts to consider all areas and subjects to could write about, we see this when he incorporates "To disappear by a slow and gradual death" referring to the end of the Roman Empire, Greek myths when he talks about "Orphean lyre" and other big historical events he includes. The theme of freedom is clear within his writing; he exclaims "the soul of liberty" and "Of independence and stern liberty" the repetition of liberty emphasises his love of independence.

Wordsworth followed the ideas of the Romantics which is visible in these last quotes; they believed individualism was vital as there was a great surge in nationalism which was used by the poets to express their individuality, imagination and life experience. Mythology was also an important factor in the...