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The Prelude is an autobiographical poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over for the rest of his long life without publishing it. He never gave it a title; he called it the "poem to Coleridge" or the "poem on the growth of my own mind."
The work is a poetic reflection on Wordsworth's own sense of his poetic vocation as it developed over the course of his life in 14 books. It was intended to be the prologue to a long three-part philosophical poem Wordsworth planned to call The Recluse. Though Wordsworth planned this project when he was in his late 20s, he went to his grave at 80 years old having published only the second part (The Excursion ), and leaving no more than fragments of the rest.
It was published after Wordsworth's death in 1850 by Wordsworth's widow Mary, who chose to name it The Prelude. The title was meant to suggest that it was written as the introduction to a longer work, and that it was one of the poet's earlier poems rather than his last.
The Prelude is by common consent the poet's greatest work; and it is noteworthy that Wordsworth's fame in his lifetime as the architect of Romantic Conservatism was actually achieved without it.
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