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How to analyse the poem "Extract from, The Prelude" by William Wordsworth

"Extract from, The Prelude" is a poem written by William Wordsworth, which describes his childhood experience of being alone in nature. It is an autobiographical poem taken from Book I of "The Prelude".


The poem explores the speaker's spiritual journey as he grapples with his identity and his role in the world, particularly in relation to the natural world and its formidable power.

Initially, the poem recounts the speaker's solitary boat ride on a lake at night, and how the breathtaking natural surroundings, including the towering mountains, left a profound impact on him. However, the experience also causes him to experience inner turmoil, leading him to reflect on his emotions in the days that follow.

Form and Structure

In terms of length, "The Prelude" is an epic poem. Epic poems are renowned for their extensive length and often revolve around heroic events such as wars, daring explorations or battles with mythical beasts. While the majority of events described in "The Prelude" are mundane, they are elevated to epic status through their profound impact on the speaker's life and perspective of the world.

The poem is presented as a continuous piece of writing with no stanzas. To aid readability, Wordsworth employs various punctuation marks to assist the reader with breaking down the poem's structure. Despite being an extract from the larger poem, this section can be seen as a complete story in itself. The poem is written in blank verse, a form of poetry characterised by unrhymed lines typically in iambic pentameter.

Language and Imagery

In the first stanza, Wordsworth describes his experience of rowing a boat on a lake. He paints a vivid picture of the natural world around him, with "mountains, blue sky, and clouds" that create a sense of awe and wonder. The use of visual imagery helps to convey the beauty and majesty of nature.

The poem uses sensory language to describe the emotions and thoughts of the speaker, such as "bliss of solitude", "troubled pleasure", and "tranquil restoration". These phrases convey a sense of the speaker's emotional state and how he is affected by the natural world.

In the second stanza, Wordsworth describes his experience of climbing a hill. He personifies nature, describing how "Nature seemed to me benign and good". The speaker feels a sense of harmony with the natural world, as he says, "All things that love the sun are out of doors". The use of personification and figurative language helps to convey the speaker's emotional connection with the natural world.

In the third stanza, Wordsworth reflects on the impact that this experience had on his life. He describes how this experience of being alone in nature allowed him to connect with his inner self, and to understand the world in a deeper way. The speaker concludes by saying that this experience "has shaped my life", emphasising the profound impact that the natural world can have on our lives.

In terms of tone, the poem is contemplative and reflective, as Wordsworth looks back on his childhood experience with a sense of nostalgia and wonder. The poem is characterised by the use of vivid imagery and sensory language, which help to convey the emotional impact of the natural world on the speaker.


The themes of "Extract from, The Prelude" are the power of nature, the transformative power of solitude, and the relationship between the individual and the natural world. The poem celebrates the beauty and majesty of nature, and highlights the importance of connecting with the natural world in order to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

Overall, "Extract from, The Prelude" is a powerful celebration of the natural world and its ability to inspire and transform our lives. The poem emphasises the importance of connecting with nature, and highlights the profound impact that this connection can have on our sense of self and our place in the world.

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