Compare and contrast ‘A red, red, rose’ by Robert Burns and ‘Cousin Kate’ by Christina Rossetti
Compare and contrast ‘A red, red, rose’ by Robert Burns and ‘Cousin Kate’ by Christina Rossetti

Compare and contrast ‘A red, red, rose’ by Robert Burns and ‘Cousin Kate’ by Christina Rossetti

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  • Pages: 4 (1804 words)
  • Published: October 25, 2017
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Both of these poems deal with the subject of love, but their views are almost opposing. Burns whose poem was first published in 1794 writes about an idealised love, while Rossetti who wrote her poem on 18 November 1859, writes with a cynical view of romance. Burns was a famous poet in his day, he was known as “the Ploughman Poet” and his poems were said to be uncomplicated expressions of human nature. Christina Rossetti was also a well-known writer but she was always the second artist in her family after her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti and she was very aware of the second-class status of women in the Victorian age.Both Burns and Rossetti are writing narrative poetry, but unlike Rossetti, Burns is not concerned with social problems. ‘A red, red, rose’ by Robert Burns.

The first poem, Robert Burns’ A red, red rose, is written in ‘Scots’, being a Scottish form of English, as shown in the language of the second stanza, ‘As fair art thou, my bonnie lass’ and the fourth stanza, ‘And fare thee weel, my only luve. ‘ It is a lyric poem, which means that it was written to be sung to a musical accompaniment.We can tell this as it has been written in a deliberately simple manner, mostly in monosyllables (‘melodie’ is the longest word in the poem) and in alternate iambic tetrameters (four stresses in a line) and trimeters (three stresses). Iambic rhythms are simple, with a weak stress followed by a strong one. There are no complicated rhythms as we may find in modern poetry.

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This poem is written as a farewell to a loved one. Burns sets a romantic, relaxed atmosphere and his narrative portrays an idealized love for a woman.He uses incremental repetition to intensify his emotion, and the word ‘luve’ is used seven times throughout the poem. In the first stanza, he sets a romantic introduction using similes. First he compares his love to “a red, red rose” and then a melody ‘that’s sweetly played in tune.

‘ These are not meant to be literal but to be examples of beauty and perfection. He also uses the word ‘June’ which gives the reader that reminder of the first month of summer, and this in turn gives images of flowers, happiness, marriage and love.In the second stanza, he compliments his lover by calling her a ‘bonnie lass’ (meaning a “beautiful lady”) and declares his love as never-ending by using an impossibility (’till a` the seas gang dry’). He keeps on listing impossibilities throughout the poem, and this makes us smile at the humour and also understand how deep his love is. In the third stanza, Robert Burns gives the reader an image of the seashore by the language he uses, ‘seas, rocks, sands’. The word “sands” can also be seen as referring to the sands in an hourglass, running through the narrow passage and marking out time.

This gives us a hint that time will be a concern in the poem, and this is proven when the narrator tells his love “fare thee weel” in the final stanza, in other words

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‘goodbye’. In the final stanza the reader feels a slight sense of sadness but also hope as the narrator promises to return. The narrator still emphasizes his love for her as he says ‘And I will come again, my luve, Tho` it were ten thousand mile! ‘ As a reader after reading the poem you feel quite sad but very hopeful. It shows a man who is deeply in love but has to go away. We are not told why or where but it gives the impression it may be away to sea.

From the images he has given us (“rocks”, “sea”, “sands”), it is as if he is standing at the seashore and telling us what he can see. This makes the poem sound spontaneous, as if he has made it up on the spot, and emphasizes how much emotion he feels at having to leave his love. ‘Cousin Kate’ by Christina Rossetti Unlike Robert Burns, Christina Rossetti’s poem Cousin Kate shows a cynical view of love. This poem is the narrator, an unknown lady who tells us about a man she loved who made her pregnant and left her, whom she now has lost to her cousin Kate.

This poem is written in the same style as Burns’ A red, red rose, with alternate tetrameters and trimeters, but Rossetti uses more complicated language and she is telling a sad and deep story in her poem. In the opening stanza our nameless narrator tells us she was a cottage maiden, ‘maiden’ meaning both an unmarried girl and also an old-fashioned word for ‘a virgin’. She gives us an insight of what her life was like before, putting her in a countryside setting. She also gives us an image of what she looked like, ‘my flaxen hair’, ‘hardened by sun and air’.We understand that she was both very pretty and used to working hard for a living, which emphasizes that she was not looking for a man.

This means that she was an innocent victim of a richer man. This is shown by the repetition of “Why did a great lord find me out? ” In the second stanza, she tells us how the lord (the “lord of the manor” in her farming community) lured her to be his mistress and gave her joy and love but then things changed. She uses a paradox when she says she led ‘a shameless shameful life,’ meaning she was ‘shameless’ when she was in love but ‘shameful’ was society’s view.This is a clever contradiction that makes us aware of the difference between her view and society’s view. She also states she was ‘an unclean thing’ which shows Victorian social standards.

She compares how he treated her with two similes – ‘he wore me like a silken knot’ and ‘he changed me like a glove’. This makes us see that he charmed his way in, got what he wanted and now has found someone else. Rossetti gives us a different opinion of men (in Burns’ poem he declares his love for only his lover, whereas here we dislike the lord for using our unknown narrator).In the

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