Francis Towne, The Source of the Arveyon, Mont
Blanc in the Background (1781)
The Prelude (1799, 1804, 1805, 1850)
Intended as introduction/prologue to a three-part magnum opus, The
Recluse or views of Nature, Man, and Society.
"On Man, on Nature, on human Life, / Musing in Solitude" ("Prospectus"
/ "Home at Grasmere" 959-60).
Part One, Book One: "Home at Grasmere" (ca. 1800, unpublished)
Part Two: The Excursion (1814)
Part Three: Unfinished
"If WW had finished the project as planned, The Recluse would
have totalled about 33,000 lines (Paradise Lost is only 10,500)"
(Mandell--see source ).
In the Preface to The Excursion, WW "likened the design implicit
in all his writings to the structural plan of a 'gothic church,' in which
the 'preparatory poem' we now call The Prelude [a name given the
work by his widow after his death] is 'the ante-chapel,' the tripartite
is 'the body,' and all his 'minor Pieces,' when 'properly arranged,' are
equivalent to 'little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses, ordinarily
included in those edifices'" (Abrams 20).
Thus, WW "envisaged all his poems as one immense work, a poem made up
of poems, written in accordance with a single comprehensive design" (Abrams
Ideas to Consider:
Love of Nature leads to Love of Man (from headnote to Book 8)
"French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars:
"Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defense / For one of conquest,
losing sight of all / Which they had struggled for" (10.792-94).
Leads to tremendous disillusionment for WW.
Godwinian rationalism offers temporary alternative, but lacks emotional
Dorothy WW, STC, help him return to the restorative "bosom" of Nature.