Following someone else’s annotations 2

Dad’s copy of Wordsworth’s The Prelude is filled with comments, but only in specific sections: Books 1, 6-7, 13. I can’t tell if, perhaps, the notes reflect a paper he was working on, or notes scrawled in the margins during the class. It’s interesting what Dad noticed or jots down: the penciled words “disregard for rules” right beside a passage “This spurious virtue, rather let it bear/A name it now deserves, this cowardice,/Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love/Of freedom which encouraged me to turn from regulations even of my own…” The Prelude, Book 6, lines 30-34. Whereas I get lost in beautiful descriptions:

“….Often have I stood
Foot-bound uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction, verse of mine perchance
May never tread: but scarcely Spenser’s self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth,”
The Prelude Book 6, lines 85-90.

In this passage I can see allusions to Spenser’s Faery Queen, references to an ash tree with ivy hanging from it, and the frost filled air of a campus in winter. My father (before he was a father) seemed concerned about disregarding rules, or ways that Wordsworth talked about disrespecting authority. And, I get the feeling from other scribbling that he might not have been enjoying himself, and I’m so glad that when I studied Wordsworth, he wanted me to enjoy the poetry, even when he wanted me to enjoy his parodies. He was patient with my enthusiasm, and gave me the gift of deciding what I liked. So, have you read The Prelude? Any thoughts on it? Did your teachers make you “skip around” in it, or let you plow through? In my courses, there wasn’t the time I have now, to sit and enjoy, so I’ll keep going, until I get to the end. I’m more than halfway done, after all.


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