- Slides: 7
Cousin Kate by Christina Rossetti LO: To understand the poem’s narrative Starter Task Read through the poem carefully and note down any words you don’t understand
Cousin Kate by Christina Rossetti LO: To make detailed notes on themes, language and form & structure Starter Task Name 3 things you think this poem is about – its main themes
Themes Inequality & Injustice Strong sense of injustice in the poem: • The lord seduced the speaker, yet she is made an "outcast thing” (not even a person!). 2 potential reasons for this: 1. she is a woman, while he is a man. 2. she is a poor & powerless, while he is a "great lord" with land gold. • She also describes herself as his "plaything“ - implies an unequal relationship between man and woman. This is emphasised by the speaker’s lack of power. Bitterness • The speaker has been passed over in favour of another and is bitter about it. • This is not a traditional love poem - this is the story of what happens afterwards. • Even the married woman is not happy and secure – there is the "fret" or worry of not having an heir for the lord. • The idea that women can be bought – Kate has been, according to the speaker, with the lord’s "land" and "ring". • The speaker implies that she went with him for love, not money, but she still was "lured" and mentions his "palace home".
Form & Structure “Cousin Kate” “you” The poem is a monologue • It is directly addressed to "Cousin Kate", who is called "you" throughout, although she is clearly not present. Written in a traditional ballad form. • This means that it alternates 8 and 6 syllable lines • with a regular rhyme scheme • In this case, every other line in a stanza rhymes. • There are six stanzas, each of eight lines. • Iambic meter is used - contrasts with the dark themes in the poem Stanza 6 “Yet I've a gift you have not got, And seem Ballads are often narrative poems (that tell a story), not like to get: For all your clothes and wedding-ring. I've like this one. • Cousin Kate’s structure follows this narrative, little doubt you fret. My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride, telling the story of the relationship the speaker Cling closer, closer yet: had with the lord, then the betrayal, and finally, Your sire would give lands for one in the last few lines, the twist ending, of the To wear his coronet. ” speaker’s son.
Language & Imagery “flaxen” Pastoral language (relates to the countryside) throughout the poem • Describing her hair as the colour of a plant Ø Shows that she is an innocent and simple country girl Stanza 2 Imagery to emphasise the speaker’s passivity and the way she has been used is used in this stanza “like a glove” “might have been a dove” Simile • suggests how easily she was cast aside. • emphasises how little power she has beside him. • Shows he treats her like an object/possession Metaphor • dove = a traditional symbol of innocence. • What she could have been contrasts with what she now is
Language & Imagery Stanza 4 “stronger wing” “bound you with his ring” “you sit in gold and sing” Stanza 6 “gift” “shame and pride” Metaphor: Bird imagery from stanza 2 repeated • Kate is able to fly higher – ie. , marry the lord. But is a bird a good thing to be? The speaker undermines Kate’s freedom stanza 4: • Suggests he has captured her, like a caged bird • Emphasises this idea - Kate seems to be like another possession - a living one, but captured in some way. Metaphor • A child is a gift, given to the worthy. • Unlike the possessions that "bought" Kate, this is something she cannot have. Oxymoron – this contradiction reflects the contrasts and tensions in the poem • Shame/pride = speaker/Kate; good/bad; man/woman; rich/poor; etc.
Language & Imagery “Woe” “moan” “O” “howl” Assonance • strong use of ‘o’ sounds emphasise the speaker’s sense of sorrow. “Cling closer, closer yet” Alliteration • Emphasises the love she has for him and the potential fear that he may be taken away.