Wordsworth Handout #2
The Prelude, Book I
What is an epic? What is an invocation of the muse? Consider lines 1-30.
Some natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Group Activity: Consider the stolen boat episode on pages 194-95, starting at line 358. What happens, and what do you make of WW's reaction?
What kind of imagery does WW employ here?
It was begun in 1802, and WW got to the end of stanza 4. He didn't know the answer to the question in lines 56-57: "Wither is fled the visionary gleam? / Where is it now, the glory and the dream?" He completed the poem in 1804. Coleridge wrote "Dejection" in 1802 in response to just the first four stanzas.
Stanzas I-IV: Wordsworth's sense of loss of the imaginative power that is the "glory" of childhood. The problem is that WW thinks that the gleam is in nature, something external to him, and he thinks it has passed away.
Stanzas V-VIII: A negative response to the loss: preoccupation with the imaginative loss: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close / Upon the growing Boy" (lines 64-65).
Stanzas IX-XI: A positive response to the loss: the "embers" in line130. Memory saves us. WW stresses a unity of seeing and hearing. The solution is WW's realization in stanza 9, lines 180-87, that the gleam wasn't external; it hasn't fled. It's internal. Though diminished, it hasn't gone anyplace. WW has passed out of stages one and two; however, he realizes that stage three offers important compensation.
Response Paper Topics: Coleridge