Tuesday, November 8, 2016

William Wordsworth: “The Prelude” and the Poetry of Revision

William Wordsworth’s long autobiographical poem The Prelude was written and developed over a period of 50 years. The final version was published when he died in 1850, and it is the version that American readers are most familiar with. But it is the 1805 version that British readers know, and apparently the reason is nothing more than personal preference. (Penguin has published a text that includes all four versions – 1798, 1799, 1805, and 1850.)

Wordsworth in old age
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Dove Cottage in the Grasmere area of England’s Lake District in 1799. They actually walked the last several miles of their journey to arrive on foot – and give Wordsworth material and the experiences of wintertime in northern England for a poem (we don’t know what Dorothy may have truly thought about walking several miles in the snow).

This was the first home of their own that they actually lived in together. Orphaned as children, they and their brother John had been passed from family member to family member. If for no other reason, Dove Cottage was important to the Wordsworths as their own family home. And it was here that Wordsworth wrote a considerable portion of the poetry he’s famous for.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Photograph: Jerwood Centre at the Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere, in England’s Lake District.

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