Is The Prelude by William Wordsworth an autobiographical poem ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Wordsworth, ever passionate about nature and a person's own expression and vision of life intended for The Prelude to be the introduction to a largely reflective poem, philosophical in nature and which would express

the development of his views on humanity, society, and nature.

The Lake District, where Wordsworth grew up, is a beautiful part of the UK and he took his inspiration from it. The poem is infused with references to the strength to be found in nature.

It begins with his childhood and traces the freedom he experienced as a youth, able to wander through woodland and on mountain paths. It coninues through his time spent at Cambridge University and his love of the abstract rather than the physical, emotion rather than intellect.

passion, which itself

Is highest reason in a soul sublime.

After spending some time in the French Alps - which so reminded him of his childhood,Wordsworth was disillusioned by life in London and he returned to France where he felt

 tied emotionally and spiritually to the popular struggle against the monarchy

He was however dissatisfied as the ideal did not match the stark reality. On returning to England, he sought new meaning in his life and his poetry reflected the new found order in nature that he found was lacking in society.

what feeble ones

Walk on this earth!

As an older and wiser man, Wordsworth saw the sense in following nature and not relying on

 unaided human reason.

He realised that whilst there is a place for everything some truths must endure:

but trains

To meekness, and exalts by humble faith.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial