Notes of Lessons: Literature, Class IV

Notes of Lessons: Literature, Class IV

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Subject: Wordworth’s Prelude • Group: Literature • Class IV • Time: 30 Minutes

By Phyllis N. Bowser
The Parents’ Review, 1914, pp. 699-700


I. To introduce the girls to Wordsworth’s Prelude.

II. To give them a general idea of the substance of the poem.

III. To encourage their love for Wordsworth’s Prelude.

IV. To improve the girls


Draw from the girls what they already know of the poet, and his poetry.

Step I.—Read to the girls a short description of Wordsworth’s personal appearance, from Edward Dowden’s Introduction to his poems. Show to the girls a copy of Haydon’s portrait of Wordsworth, in order that they may know what the poet whom they are to study, looked like.

Step II.—Tell the girls very shortly the chief events of Wordsworth’s life. “He was born in 1770, at Cockermouth, a small country town in Cumberland. His mother died when he was only eight, and then Wordsworth went to school at Hawkeshead. Of his school days you will read in the Prelude, and also his college days. Wordsworth went to Cambridge when he was eighteen. After his college training was over, he spent some months in London, and then settled in Dorsetshire with his sister Dorothy, who was always such a help and support to him. Whilst here, Wordsworth first met Coleridge, who was to be his life-long friend. The winter of 1798 was passed in Germany, with Dorothy, and Coleridge. It was here that Wordsworth first meditated, and designed the Prelude. The following summer Wordsworth came, with his sister to Grasmere. Settled in Dove Cottage In 1802, Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson, whom he had known since his schooldays. Wordsworth had several children, and the family moved in 1813, to Rydal Mount. He was made Poet Laureate in 1843. Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount in 1850, he was 80 years old when he died.”

Step III.—Find out from the girls if they know what the word “prelude” means. Give Latin derivation, præ—before, ludere—to play. Tell them that it was intended to be an introduction to a much greater poem “The Recluse.” This poem was to consist of three books, but the “Excursion” was the only book ever finished. The Prelude was written between 1799-1805.

Step IV.—Get one of the girls to read from her book the note which says that the Prelude was written to Coleridge. Get another girl to read an extract from the poem which Coleridge wrote to Wordsworth, the night after he had heard the Prelude read by Wordsworth.

Step V.—Read to the girls, a short extract from W. MacNeile Dixon’s Introduction to Wordsworth’s poems, to give the girls a general idea of the Prelude.

Step VI.—Narration.

Step VII.—Look through the different books of the Prelude with the girls, and get them to read the headings of the different books.

Step VIII.—Start the girls reading the first book of the Prelude. Explain that Mithridates was a King of Pontus. When a boy his mother tried to kill him, so he fled to the mountains. Years later, he overran Asia Minor with a huge army, and defeated the Romans. Sertorius was a Roman Statesman and General. He turned against Rome, and joined the Spanish people. Governed them in the Fortunate Isles, probably the Canary Islands. Dalecarlia is a west midland region of Sweden, where there are iron, silver, and lead mines. Gustavus, King of Sweden, freed the country from the Danes. Odin was the god of battle rage. The Orphean lyre was a lyre made of a reed used by the great Greek Musician Orpheus. An Ӕolian harp, is a harp played by the wind.

Step IX.—Get the girls to tell shortly what they have been reading about.