Essay 1: The Prelude

Essay One will be an a short 1 1/2-page essay (it cannot be longer than this) that addresses the following question.  What is/are the key idea(s) expressed in The Prelude's (pp. 356-57) preamble, the first fifty-four lines?

You will be writing this essay before we discuss the poem in class, so trust your insights and rely on the reading strategies we developed in class.  Express a clear, specific thesis statement and support it with your reasoning and analysis as well as a few quotations.

You will want to use some quotations, but not too many for a short essay.  Consult the MLA Handbook, 8th ed, for information about integrating poetry.  Since we are all using the NA and only one text, you do not need a work cited page for this assignment.

It will helpful to read footnote 3 to The Prelude as well as the footnote 1 to Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."  The introductory material to The Prelude will also help: pp. 349-51. These notes will help shape and sharpen your thinking.  Also, be sure to express your thoughts as a reader of literature.  Think about both content and form--meter and sound.  Don' worry about technical concepts as much as expressing your thoughts. 

Be careful, though, simply not to repeat or paraphrase the footnotes or intro material.  Your thesis and analysis should capture the sum of lines 1-54.

Although your focus is the first fifty-four lines, reading more--if not all--of the poem will help you contextualize this preamble.

Style/Grammar/Formatting Audience

Assume readers, who are students taking a 200- or 300-level English literature course, have a basic knowledge of the work's plot. What would this audience expect to learn from your essay? What would be their reason for reading it? Keep these questions in mind as your draft and revise.

Feel free to see me if you have any questions.

The essay's due date is on the syllabus.