Education Portal provides a good summary of Wordsworth's "Prelude." The summary includes a concise introduction with context, a more extensive overview and a detailed analysis that articulates the significance of the poem.
Wordsworth's "The Prelude" is among his most influential and cited poems. The poem is Wordsworth's attempt to explore and understand how his poetry and perception of the world around him had been influenced by events throughout his life. Wordsworth, who lived from 1770 to 1850, was one of the first and most influential poets of the Romantic era, which lasted from 1798 to the middle of the 1800s. Romantic writers challenged the ideals of the Enlightenment, which lasted from the middle of the 1600s until about 1800, and emphasized reason and logic. Despite the advancements made during the Enlightenment, Romantic writers rejected sterile logic as a way to understand the world, and instead emphasized feelings and emotion.
"The Prelude" is one of Wordsworth's most impressive works. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem in 1799. The early version contains only two books and consists of less than a thousand lines in total. In 1805, Wordsworth expanded the poem to 13 books. He then spent the next 35 years of his life revising the poem's style. When he died in 1850, he had divided the poem into 14 total books.