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“‘Oh! yet a few short years of useful life, /And all will be complete, thy race be run. / Thy monument of glory will be raised,’ says William Wordsworth in the concluding paragraph of what he called ‘the Poem on [his] own Life.’ He had started his autobiographical poem in 1798, more than half a century before it was published in July 1850. The composition and then the revision of that work engaged the author’s attention from his late twenties till death at the age of eighty. Nonetheless, he was not the author of the title of his autobiography; the name for the posthumous publication, The Prelude, was chosen by Wordsworth’s wife/widow, Mary. Judging by that hope expressed in the concluding paragraph Mary could have equally well named William’s autobiographical poem Great Expectations. . . .”

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