WORDSWORTH – ‘THE IDIOT BOY’.

Apart from the line ” I wandered lonely as a l cloud” written by Wordsworth, there was little else I knew about him.

The Wordsworth Museum  holds 90% of WW’s  literary manuscripts. I was invited to the Museum and  given a commission to create a piece of tactile work using them as inspiration. This was to be a tall order for me.   I had to read his biography, read as much poetry as possible and produce work in less than two  months. This would mean working  seven days a week to complete on time..

I bought the Hunter Davies excellent biography of William Wordsworth. I stepped into the world of WW, his writings, relationship with his sister Dorothy, the Lake poets, the Lake District, social history, in fact it gave me everything I needed. Next I had to read as much of his poetry as possible.  I was  staggered to learn of his output of work, In a period when everything had to be hand written, who could achieve that now. His autobiographical poem ‘The Prelude’ is pure genius.   I was struggling what to pick to inspire a piece of work. There was so much to choose from and so little time.

The poem ‘The Idiot Boy’ caught my attention because I just would not have associated the title  with WW.  I struggled with the  first reading, when I read it again I loved it.  It tells the story of the love of a mother for her idiot son.

The poem provoked the politician John Wilson to write to Wordsworth telling him that he was not happy with the content and felt that he should not be writing such things. Wordsworth replied to him  and defended his choice of subject. Here was my inspiration.

I made two panels of tactile quotes , one from Wilsons’ letter to WW in which he states ”  you have deleanated feelings which though natural do not please but which create a certain degree of disgust and contempt.”.

WW defended his poem and replied “ it is probable that the principal cause of your dislike to this particular poem lies in the word Idiot”.

I used both these quotes, made two panels of raised lettering and these sit along side the words of ‘The Idiot Boy’ poem.

WW went on to say in his letter ” I wrote the poem with exceeding delight and pleasure, and when ever I read it I read it with pleasure”.

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