Prelude, Book Fourth, "Summer Vacation"
1805 lineation in parentheses)
1. ll. 1-26 and ff.
What are some contrasts between this opening passage and those which began the earlier books? To what extent does the poet's experience of returning home resemble that described at the beginning of Book I, and to what extent are there significant differences?
2. ll. 27-92 (17-83)
What social and psychological experiences most impress him on his return? What emphasis and tone characterize descriptions of reencountering the "old Dame," friends, and remembered places? (Do you believe his statement about the "Old Dame," ll. 31-32, "The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew/ Upon thy grave, good creature! While my heart / Can beat never will I forget thy name"? ) What interests him about sleeping once again in his childhood bed?
3. ll. 93-130 (84-120)
What are some reasons for the poet's choice of a dog as companion; why hadn't he told us of this previously? Are features of the poet's character and environment revealed in his description of their mutual walks?
4. ll. 131-137 (121-130)
In l. 132, the poet speaks of regretting these walks, then abruptly breaks off to assert that remembrance brings "perfect joy of heart." Is regret consistent with unsullied joy, and how does he attempt to explain this transition?
5. ll. 140-190 (127-180)
How has absence altered his perception of nature's character? Is there anything new in the epiphany of ll. 150-152, 161-162:
. . . Gently did my soul
Put off her veil, and, self-transmuted, stood
Naked, as in the presence of her God. . . .
I had inward hopes
And swellings of the spirit, was rapt and soothed,
Conversed with promises, had glimmering views
How life pervades the undecaying mind;
How the immortal soul with God-like power
Informs, creates, and thaws the deepest sleep
That time can lay upon her; how on earth,
Man, if he do but live within the light
Of high endeavours, daily spreads abroad
His being armed with strength that cannot fail.
Nor was there want of milder thoughts, of love
Of innocence, and holiday repose;
And more than pastoral quiet, 'mid the stir
Of boldest projects, and a peaceful end
At last, or glorious, by endurance won.
which had not previously occured in Books I and II?
If so, what features of the experience have developed, and how does he account for their presence? (If you don't see any change, is the poet simply repeating himself, and if so, can this repetition be justified on artistic grounds?
6. ll. 191-255 (181-246)
On returning home the poet feels an increased "human-heartedness about my love" (233). Why does his return inspire this more than events of his earlier environment had done? Can he understand qualities of his earlier environment which he hadn't acknowledged before; if so, what are they?
7. ll. 256-276 (247-267)
What are characteristic features of this simile of the poet as boatman gazing into the depths of a lake? What meanings are attached to the image?
8. ll. 276-352 (268-346)
In spite of the poet's claim that increased human sympathies have extended his view of reality, as a result of "a swarm of heady schemes" and "vanities" he experiences an "inner falling off" (278) of his earlier yearnings nad "self-forgetfulness," and he is only able to renew these when once again alone after a party (319-356).
Are these responses consistent? If he does learn through human and social relationships, why do the most significant perceptions of his life inevitably come to him when alone, and why do they center on consciousness of the power of his individual mind?
9. ll. 329-338 (329-346)
What is remarkable about this particular dawn? What vows are made for him, why is it significant that he doesn't make them himself, and what is meant by speaking of himself as "a dedicated Spirit"? To what is he dedicated, and why hadn't he known of this previously?
10. ll. 354-469 (347-463)
Lines 354-370 were added in the 1850 version; in what way do they alter the transition to the poet's encounter with the old soldier?
Why is solitude "Most potent when impressed upon the mind/ With an appropriate human center"--has this been true for him thus far, and how does he make the shift to social experience?
What are important features of the poet's presentation of the soldier and of his own response? Are there significant comparisons with "Resolution and Independence" and "The Old Cumberland Beggar"?
11. ll. 461-469 (464-504)
What is the tone of the final passage? Is it too abrupt; why or why not? Why is the poet able to return to his distant home "with quiet heart"?