As previous chapters have shown, it’s not so much that “The Idiot Boy” is simply comic and “The Thorn” simply tragic, but that each poem--like The Prelude itself--is a medley. For all the differences between the balladic and the blank-verse sides of Wordsworth, that he should find himself recalling both "The Idiot Boy" and "The Thorn" at the end of The Prelude raises some possibilities and questions. Can “the history of a Poet’s mind” continue the process of self-humoring in a new form? If so, what would the new form do to the process? This chapter considers the subterranean humor of Wordsworth's experimental epic by studying his debts to Pope, to mock-heroic and mock-epic forms, to Cowper, and to the pantomime.
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