The Idiot Boy

Like Coleridge’s 'Rime of the Ancyent Marinere' Wordsworth’s poem 'The Idiot Boy' also appears in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads (1798). 'The Idiot Boy' thus provides a second example of a Romantic ballad form to compare with Coleridge’s and functions as a kind of comic, mock-epic, counter-model to the 'Rime'. Both poems are concerned with responsibility / agency or the lack of it and both tend towards circularity: neither poem goes anywhere. In the 'Rime' the Ancyent Marinere spins a yarn so unbelievable that it raises questions as to whether any of it happened outside the space of his own head. In 'The Idiot Boy' the poem draws attention to subjectivity with the unknowable exterior and interior experience of young Johnny brought to the fore. This is a good example of how, when we generate maps to visualise the text, we begin to see that certain poetic genres generate particular spatial forms. The ballad tends towards the circular and/or a figure of eight which emerges strongly here in the Fabula/ Syuzhet maps.