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Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'The Prelude'

In this worksheet, students will be able to revise key quotes in 'The Prelude' (William Wordsworth).

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Refer to the poem 'The Prelude' in your anthology.

 

Here's a quick recap of the poem: The speaker (who is Wordsworth, himself) describes his relationship with nature, depicting how it has changed over the years. A past experience of the sublime, (this refers to an awe-inspiringly grand experience- something monumental and amazing) which then causes the speaker's opinion of nature to change. In the case of this poem, Wordsworth's sublime experience is linked to fear and awe over nature. The poem depicts a life-changing moment for Wordsworth, where he experiences a change from boy to man, after witnessing the power of nature.

 

 

Thought bubble

 

 

This activity should help you revise some key quotes and help deepen your understanding of the poem. In the following questions, you'll be given a quote from the poem, and you'll need to identify the poet's meaning behind the quote.

 

Old Fashioned Camera

 

It may be helpful to write the quotes down as you do this exercise so you can memorise them for your exam.

"One summer evening (led by her) I found..."

 

 

What does the very first quote imply about the speaker's relationship with nature?

 

That nature is a powerful force

That nature is weak

Nature has nothing to do with this quote

"...It was an act of stealth, and troubled pleasure..."

 

What can you infer about how confusing nature is?

 

Fill in the blanks. Choose two correct answers out of the options below.

 

simile

contrasting

similar

adverb

oxymoron 

 

Remember:

An oxymoron is when two opposing words are placed next to each other.

That nature is a powerful force

That nature is weak

Nature has nothing to do with this quote

"Small circles glittering idly in the moon"

 

 

Tick one box which correctly identifies a technique used in this quote.

 

The quote is a metaphor

The quote uses alliteration: the letter 'L', creating a soft sound

The quote is an oxymoron which shows the power of nature

"She was an elfin pinnace; lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake"

 

 

Definition: a pinnace is a small boat!

 

Tick the two boxes which correctly identify the two devices used.

The quote is a metaphor

The quote uses alliteration: the letter 'L', creating a soft sound

The quote is an oxymoron which shows the power of nature

"I dipped my oars into the silent lake".

 

Write the one correct number, from the options below, which best explains the quote.

 

1. The use of the adjective "silent" to describe the lake, and active verb "dipped" to describe Wordsworth's action, shows that at this moment in time, Wordsworth has power over nature.

2. The use of the adjective "silent" shows that Wordsworth is unable to speak.

3. Wordsworth is scared and upset because the lake is "silent" and won't communicate with him.

"The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge"

 

 

Pick three out of the options below to fill the blanks:

 

power

grandness

motif

metaphor

distance

simile

repetition

alliteration

small

Pick one number from the options below which show the correct quote: that the speaker (Wordsworth) has a powerful imagination.

 

1. "...with trembling oars I turned"

2. "Huge and mighty forms [...] moved slowly through the mind by day, and were a trouble to my dreams"

3. "...one summer evening"

 

"And growing still in stature the grim shape"

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

The quote uses a present continuous verb "growing"

The quote uses simile

The quote uses alliteration

The quote uses personification, to make the mountain seem like a terrifying monster

The quote uses adverbs

"Towered up between me and the stars, and still, for so it seemed..."

 

 

Tick one correct interpretation of language in this quote.

 

The sibilance creates a sense of fear, through the sinister hissing sound

The alliteration creates a sense of calmness and peacefulness

The adjectives used create a sense of peace and love

Last one!

 

"But huge and mighty forms, that do not live..."

 

 

Pick two words which link to the overall motif of power (of nature)

 

mighty

forms 

huge 

live

  • Question 1

"One summer evening (led by her) I found..."

 

 

What does the very first quote imply about the speaker's relationship with nature?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
That nature is a powerful force
EDDIE SAYS
If this question tricked you, don't worry! Now you know, because, even though nature isn't explicitly addressed, Wordsworth begins by personifying nature. Nature is personified through the pronoun "Her". The fact that the speaker is being "led" suggests that he is being coerced into doing something. He's not choosing to walk on his own. Nature is also referred to as "her"- a pronoun that displays feminine, human-like qualities. Right at the beginning, nature is presented as on par with humans (in fact, as we go through the poem, Wordsworth makes it apparent that nature may be more powerful than any human: this is where the sublime qualities of nature begin to be more apparent). Why do you think nature is personified as a woman, "her"? Maybe, Wordsworth is suggesting that there's a connection between the speaker (who is probably himself) and his relationship with nature as he grows into manhood. Throughout the poem, sex and sexual relationships are implied, maybe suggesting that the speaker sexually matures. As he does, he begins to comprehend the sheer power and awesomeness of nature.
  • Question 2

"...It was an act of stealth, and troubled pleasure..."

 

What can you infer about how confusing nature is?

 

Fill in the blanks. Choose two correct answers out of the options below.

 

simile

contrasting

similar

adverb

oxymoron 

 

Remember:

An oxymoron is when two opposing words are placed next to each other.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Look at the oxymoron "troubled pleasure". The speaker seems to be feeling both pleasure and anxiety (implied by the word "troubled" suggesting some sort of inner turmoil). Wordsworth seems to be creating an idea of confusion- nature is presented as so powerful, it's literally jumbling Wordsworth's mind.
  • Question 3

"Small circles glittering idly in the moon"

 

 

Tick one box which correctly identifies a technique used in this quote.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote uses alliteration: the letter 'L', creating a soft sound
EDDIE SAYS
Say the quote to yourself a few times. You might find that there are a lot of repeated 'L' sounds: for example, "circLes" and "gLittering". This is alliteration. It creates a very soft and mystical feel to that part of the poem, giving a sense of tranquillity. Nature seems to be calmly guiding the speaker in this part of the poem.
  • Question 4

"She was an elfin pinnace; lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake"

 

 

Definition: a pinnace is a small boat!

 

Tick the two boxes which correctly identify the two devices used.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This one was a little bit complicated, so well done if you had a go and, even better, if you got the correct answer. If not, don't worry! Jot down the explanation below... So the quote is packed with a lot of devices. We have the personification of the "elfin" pinnace (implying how small the boat is). We also have the adjective "silent" used to describe the lake surrounding Wordsworth- in this case, we know that Wordsworth is going to undergo a huge change as he realises how vast and frightening nature can be. Perhaps the "silent" lake, personified in this way, is foreshadowing the fear and awe that Wordsworth is about to feel? Now, delving a little deeper, we also have a semantic field of sex- words such as "lustily" and "dipped" imply a sexual metaphor which is further emphasised by the personification of the boat as "she" and "elfin"- suggesting, not only, that there's some kind of feminine presence in the poem but the adjective "elfin" connotes to the delicate and feminine. Remember, you can delve as deep as you want. This quote (and a lot of other quotes from this poem) are open to interpretation in lots of different ways. But, there's definitely no mistaking that the poem has a sexual theme running through it. Wordsworth is recounting his childhood, as he realises the power of nature, he goes from child to man. The idea of a sexual encounter aiding Wordsworth's transformation from child to man is undeniable- present within the really specific words used to connote to sex and transformation. Deep stuff, Wordsworth!
  • Question 5

"I dipped my oars into the silent lake".

 

Write the one correct number, from the options below, which best explains the quote.

 

1. The use of the adjective "silent" to describe the lake, and active verb "dipped" to describe Wordsworth's action, shows that at this moment in time, Wordsworth has power over nature.

2. The use of the adjective "silent" shows that Wordsworth is unable to speak.

3. Wordsworth is scared and upset because the lake is "silent" and won't communicate with him.

CORRECT ANSWER
1
EDDIE SAYS
Answer number one is the correct one! The speaker (who is Wordsworth) has power and authority at this stage. You could mention the fact that the pronoun "I" shows that the speaker is in control, rather than nature. Furthermore, the fact that Wordsworth dips his oar "lustily" really sexualises the quote, making Wordsworth the more active participant. The "silent" lake is passive.
  • Question 6

"The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge"

 

 

Pick three out of the options below to fill the blanks:

 

power

grandness

motif

metaphor

distance

simile

repetition

alliteration

small

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Think about how Wordsworth normally uses a wide range of adjectives when describing nature. However, in this quote, very simple adjectives are used such as "huge" and "black". It's as if the speaker has been awe-struck by what he's just seen. Interesting, how a poem which uses so many techniques and devices to try to convey power through language suddenly stops short- the absence of a wide range of vocabulary is more telling than if Wordsworth had used lots of different adjectives!
  • Question 7

Pick one number from the options below which show the correct quote: that the speaker (Wordsworth) has a powerful imagination.

 

1. "...with trembling oars I turned"

2. "Huge and mighty forms [...] moved slowly through the mind by day, and were a trouble to my dreams"

3. "...one summer evening"

 

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
Wordsworth really emphasises the power of imagination. This quote comes at the end of the poem and really showcases the transformation that Wordsworth undergoes. He no longer views nature as pleasant ("remained no pleasant images of trees...no colours of green fields") but as something quite dark and scary ("but huge and mighty forms...were a trouble to my dreams"). Wordsworth is literally haunted by the dark, huge, vast power of nature. His imagination has run off with him. What does nature symbolise for Wordsworth? What does the vastness of nature mean? Why does it haunt his dreams? The simile used "like living men" to describe the way that Wordsworth's thoughts are invaded by a newfound fear of nature also ensures that the reader's imagination is influenced, just as Wordsworth's is. We are encouraged to expand our minds and think about the way that nature affects us.
  • Question 8

"And growing still in stature the grim shape"

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote uses a present continuous verb "growing"
The quote uses personification, to make the mountain seem like a terrifying monster
EDDIE SAYS
This quote is interesting because it is the climax of the poem- it portrays the mountain as something much more than it is through personification and verbs, creating a sense of ongoing fear and terror. The present continuous verb helps us to imagine the extent of nature's power. It seems as if the mountain is still "growing in stature" and that it may never stop! Perhaps this was done to emphasise that nature will forever be more powerful than humans. We die, but nature continuous on for years, centuries, and eternities. Similarly, the personification of the mountain as something "growing" and "grim" seems to create a frightening and daunting effect.
  • Question 9

"Towered up between me and the stars, and still, for so it seemed..."

 

 

Tick one correct interpretation of language in this quote.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The sibilance creates a sense of fear, through the sinister hissing sound
EDDIE SAYS
The sibilance (repeated 's' sounds) not only creates a sense of fear, but it increases the time taken to read the sentence. Wordsworth seems to be frozen, suspended in the moment of fear. The verb "towered" is very intimidating- it creates imagery of grandness, therefore we can relate this to the idea of power and authority.
  • Question 10

Last one!

 

"But huge and mighty forms, that do not live..."

 

 

Pick two words which link to the overall motif of power (of nature)

 

mighty

forms 

huge 

live

CORRECT ANSWER
mighty
huge
EDDIE SAYS
You've probably realised by now that the power of nature is a big theme in the poem! Linking as many quotes as you can to this theme is a great idea- you could even say there is a semantic field (words relating to a similar theme) of language related to the power of nature.
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