Is The Prelude a psychological poem?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This famous and lengthy poem by Wordsworth is very definitely a psychological poem in that it focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the speaker and how they develop as he ages. It is very much a poem that is interested in internal processes of thoughts and emotions rather than any external events, and as such it provides a fascinating focus on how Wordsworth felt about nature and its importance to his thinking and personality. Note, for example, the following quote, that is taken from a section in this poem where Wordsworth, in his advancing years, finds in nature a system of law and order that he feels is sadly lacking in humanity:

O Soul of Nature! that, by laws divine

Sustained and governed, still dost overflow

With an impassioned life, what feeble ones

Walk on this earth!

This quote is interesting because it reveals a lot about Wordsworth's psychology from how he sees nature. For him, nature is not just about inspiring man through its beauty, but also presents an ordered system that mankind desperately lacks, a system that man can submit himself to and be modelled by. This reveals some very interesting aspects of Wordsworth's character as he psychologically finds it easier to abandon himself to the rules of nature in his old age than trust in the law and order of human society. At each stage of this poem therefore there are fascinating psychological insights to be seen about Wordsworth and his relationship with nature.

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