Prelude1. (noun) An introductory performance, event, or action preceding a more important one; a preliminary or preface.
I had no sooner shared one of my favourite poems yesterday, when it was time to set up my monthly Wednesday Challenge, and being much in a "Preludes" state of mind, I have decided to run with it.
The idea behind Eliot's Preludes was to write a series of introductory poems for a longer piece that does not exist. Eliot wrote each fragment over a period of a year, then pieced them together. While there is no narrative link between them, they form a cohesive unit in mood, theme and motif. The absent main event is the continued erosion of humanity and spirituality in the city lifestyles man has chosen to live.
If we are to write a prelude of our own, what should it contain? Here are a few suggestions:
- Focus on setting: place and time in terms of date, day, year or season.
- Lyrical poetry: descriptive and mood-driven rather than narrative.
- Style: Eliot chose Stream of Consciousness, more abstract than concrete, so select the approach which would best suit your intentions.
- Intention: Leave the reader with the sense that this was an introduction. Set the scene for an imagined main body of writing, but do not write the second part.