The Prelude is a long autobiographical poem that Wordsworth worked on for much of his adult life in which he describes his early years and his development as a poet sage. It is considered by many to be his masterpiece and offers insights into his poetry.
Books 9–12 cover Wordsworth's experiences of the French Revolution. The young Wordsworth was a radical for his time period (he would not seem radical to us, but was for those times) in that he supported the goals of the revolution, including republicanism rather than monarchy, liberty, universal brotherhood, and equality. He was idealistic and hoped France could achieve a new kind of society in which common people would have greater rights and freedom. He was in France when the revolution turned into a bloodbath and was deeply troubled by what he witnessed. He returned to England deeply depressed and wondered what his future would hold. He became disillusioned and wondered how he could make a difference for the common person.
Finally, as he outlines in the last books (13–14), he fully discovers his vocation as a poet sage. He believed he could be a bridge between his higher class world and that of humble people. He yearned to show the common person in a positive light and reveal how much benefit could be derived from living a simple life close to nature. He dwells on his childhood memories in book 13—memory was always important to Wordsworth—and how living close to nature helped to form him. Finally, in book 14, he climbs Mount Snowden with friends, feels himself infused with a spiritual force, and recognizes that he must continue to strive for enlightenment and meaning.