Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously

from Bob Dylan – Visions Of Johanna Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

This verse is from someone else’s perspective — who knows the narrator and knows Johanna, talking about the singer of the first two verses. The song famously shifts perspectives, and this is an example of Dylan using that technique to be self-analytical (and self-critical).

“Oh, how can I explain?” denotes the shift back to him. He knows how people see him but he can’t help it.

Dylan would master this shifting narrator POV (influenced by Joyce and Faulkner) most famously in 1975’s “Tangled Up in Blue”

Dylan is using William Blake’s figurative character “Little Boy Lost” from his book of poems, “Songs Of Innocence.”

Dylan is using this comparison for himself, merely drawing upon the work of Blake to add yet another character into his Visions.

The last lines of the Blake poem are “And away the vapour flew” which when put into the perspective of Dylan’s earlier writings, may draw upon psychedelic drug use. Visions fading like vapours

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