The Foster-Mother's Tale - Coleridge

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It is subtitle as a dramatic fragment, which suggests it holds the founding principles of 'Lyrical Ballads' in that it reinforces the revolutionary beliefs held by Coleridge and Wordsworth. It deals with issues from social justice to love, the supernatural, nature and crime. It gives us an insight into life. The conversational form helps to give it a more friendly and relaxed tone, with simple characters such as the Foster Mother being juxtaposed by the seemingly educated, yet vulnerable Maria.

It is a story of a "poor mad youth" found in nature and raised by a woodman and, despite his religious upbringing, remains wild and eventually escapes the constraints of organised religion and society in favour of nature. It focuses on nature as a source of epistemology.

  • "knew the names of birds...and whistled, as he were a bird himself" indicates the boy's connection with nature and appreciation of it which contrasts with his disinterest in organised institutions "never learnt a prayer".
  • He is never corrupted by these…

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A useful and concise exploration of the poem that would be most helpful on first reading of the poem then you could use the resource to add your own findings to as you study and revise the text in more detail.

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