Cousin Kate

"Cousin Kate" by Christina Rossetti



Ballad Form

- Spoken, used to tell a story

- 1st Person Narrative

- Biased

- ABCB Rhyme Scheme

- Ballad stanzas joined together into 8-line stanzas.


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Stanza 1

The speaker is reminscing about her simplicity/innocence of her past life.

"I was." - Past tense, looking back, a sense of nostalgia. Sadness/Regret

Repetition of 'Why?' - Conveys a sense of frustration as if the speaker knows she was foolish and is blaming herself for a current situation. Conveys regret

Juxtaposition between 'Great Lord' and 'Cottage Maiden' - Emphais on the change the Lord made in her life and how unworthy she was to be with him, implying admiration for this change, conveys a sense of vunreability. 

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Stanza 2

The speaker explains her relationship with the Lord

"Lured" "Plaything" - The Lord is described almost animalistic conveying the idea that he was deceitful

"Shameless Shameful Life" - This juxtaposition implies that the Speaker didn't care at the time, she enjoyed the time she spent even though she knew it was wrong implying that she must've felt loved to not care.

"Like a silken knot, like a glove." - These similies implies her objectification and how easily she was manipulated and disgarded conveying a sense of weakness to the audience.

Volta, "so now" - This implies that she has now come back to reality and it didn't have a happy ending. Hindsight, wistful tone.

"Dove" - Imagery of Innocence and Purity.

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Stanza 3

The Speaker directly addresses her cousin, Kate - who we learn in now the lover of the Lord.

"O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate." - The exclamation is a bitter one as if she is sarcastically showing respect towards her also this also shows Kate's priorities first as a wife and second as a family member conveying to the audience that the Speaker was let down by her cousin.

"Watched, Lifted" - Again, the Speaker describes the Lord as having very predatory habits as if he is a villan who easily tricks women showing that the Speaker no longer is in love with him and has come to terms of being fooled by him. The idea of objectification

"Sit with him on high" - Conveys the idea that he is glorified, that he is mighty and Kate nor the Speaker are worthy to be with him in this patriachal society.

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Stanza 4

The Speaker describes Kate's life

Repetition of  'good and pure' - The repetition creates a biting tone as if the Speaker keeps feeling the need to mention that they were similar, creating a very bitter and jealous tone.

"Howl" - The onomatopoeia  creates the imagery that the Speaker now is desperate and has almost been restricted to having animalistic qualities because of the Lord, this could also be an extended metaphor for her lack of uncleanliness sexuality/social status

Juxtaposition with 'Gold and Sing' - Again refers back to the Bird imagery, the idea that Kate is pure and innocent and this heightens the contrast between the Speaker who is howling and has fallen from Grace.

"Stronger wing." - Showing Kate's ambition to get what she wants, Romance vs. Ambition, Kate played the Lord better and made him marry her while the Speaker actually did have the 'tenderer heart' and did love him. Questions Kate's love for the Lord. 

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Stanza 5

The Speaker questions Kate's Loyalty

"Writ in sand" - Metaphor for Kate's love coming and going and that she doesn't love him for the right reasons conveying that persona loves him more for the right reasons

The use of the Conditional Tense - This conveys a sense of viseral hatred, that if the Speaker had the chance to, she would do awful things to the Lord, shows the audience that the Speaker still thinks about him and is clearly obsessing over him, showing how desperate she has become.

"Won" - Again the Lord's objectification of women, showing that women are like prizes to be won, conveying that he doesn't love them as people but only wants sex.

"I would have spit into his face and not have taken his hand." - Not only is this a massive insult but this coveys a very childish tone and shows how low she has stooped to think and feel like this but she says this in loyalty not in hearbreak. But it is more heartbreak, she must be upset to feel this way. 

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Stanza 6

The Speaker changes her address, and addresses her illegitimate son 

Volta - This acts as a turning point as she talks about the only thing in her life which gives her joy showing that her love isn't fully lost and she still has some hope in her son.

"You have not got." - This address to Kate creates a childish tone as if she is showing off the maternal bond she has but this childish tone percieves this to be an empty threat at Kate, realistically the Speaker has nothing but her love for her Son.

"My shame, my pride." - Conveys the sense that although she is an outcast in society, she does have love in her heart and this juxtaposition shows her conflicted feelings on the matter.

Repetition of 'closer' - This reinforces the idea that her Son is the only thing she has left in the World, showing her desperation that she wants to keep this bond as close to her as possible and she isn't bitter as long as she has her Son's love. 

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