‘Cousin Kate’ was written by Christina Rossetti in the nineteenth century. Her most popular piece of work was the Christmas carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’.
‘Cousin Kate’ is a narrative poem and it is spoken in the first person narrative.’The Seduction’ was written by Eileen mc Auley in the twentieth century. ‘The Seduction’ is also a narrative poem and it is written in the third person narrative.The theme for each poem is the same in which both women were used by men, thrown to one side and left pregnant. Men ruined each woman’s life and created a bad name for her around the community. Even though the poems are written in different centuries and nowadays it may be more acceptable to have a child out of wedlock, the fact remains that some women are still judged and treated as outcasts.
In ‘Cousin Kate’ we see’The neighbours call you good and pureCall me an outcast thing’.While in ‘The Seduction’ it says:’And better, now, to turn away, move away, fade awayThan to have the neighbours whisper that “you always looked the type”.’The men in each poem are in sharp contrast to each other in the method by which they seduced the women. The maiden in ‘Cousin Kate’ was seduced in pleasant surroundings by a wealthy lord.’He lured me to his palace home’.In ‘The Seduction’ however the girl is seduced in a sleazy, sordid and squalid way using alcohol and promises.
‘I’ll take you to the river where I spend the afternoons,When I should be at school, or eating me dinner.Wh...
ere I go, by myself, with me dads magazinesAnd a bag filled with shimmering, sweet paint thinner’.The two poems differ because in ‘Cousin Kate’ two women are involved because the lord was involved with the cottage maiden and when he saw Kate he disregarded the former. Kate however was more cautious than her cousin. She didn’t jump straight in. She held out until she got a wedding ring.
In ‘Cousin Kate’ the cottage maiden really loved the lord’O cousin Kate my love was trueYour love was writ in sand:’However, in ‘The Seduction’ the girl was drunk and she didn’t really know what she was doing. At the time there is a possibility that she might have thought she was in love.’As he brought her more drink, so she fell in love …
”The Seduction’ contrasts with ‘Cousin Kate’ because of the role of the media portrayed through teenage magazines. In ‘The Seduction’ we see this in the lines’And she stifled a giggle, reminded of numerousStories from teenage magazines …
‘In both poems the girls are young and naï¿½ve but now they have to accept the responsibility of a child and the gossip and ridicule that comes with it. The two girls react differently. The cottage maiden talks about the shame of the situation but she also talks about the pride and the love she has for her son:’My fair-haired son, my shame, my prideCling closer, closer yet:’However, the sixteen year old girl reacts by grieving for her loss of youth and by throwing her shoes at the wall.’And on that day she broke the heelsOf her
high white shoes (as she flung them at the wall).
‘The shoes themselves may represent innocence and its loss. The cottage maiden is prepared to accept it but the sixteen year old is not.The mood of ‘Cousin Kate’ is quite romantic to start off with but then it suddenly changes to a mood of bitterness and tension, resentment and depression. However, the poems ending is on a happier note and the poet portrays the image of the pleasure that the child has brought the mother. We can also imagine the pride and love the mother has for the child.
The cottage maiden is gloating and is triumphant.’Your father would give lands for one to wear his coronet’.The girl in ‘The Seduction’ had a very negative reaction and attitude towards the fact that she was going to bear a child and she also feels cheated because it has ruined her life. All her dreams are in tatters. She is cynical and bitter. The mood in this poem is cold through out.
The fact that the girl was drunk when she became pregnant appears to make her attitude towards her child quite callous and depressing. The boy is portrayed in the simile-‘With his eyes as blue as iodine and the kisses that tasted of nicotine’.The ‘kisses that tasted of nicotine’ suggests coarseness and the unpleasantness of the taste of nicotine. The following quotation portrays a mood of anger and hatred:’On the carpet. And on that day she broke heels of her high white shoes (as she flung them at the wall).
And realized, for once, that she was truly frightenedBut more than that cheated by the promise of it all’.The poem is gloomy as the girl would rather die than bear a beautiful child that you can call your own.’Better to starve yourself, like a sick, precocious childThan to walk through town with a belly huge and ripe.’We can see the image of her wedding dreams in tatters by the way she ripped up her magazines on the carpet.’And she ripped up all herMy Guy and her Jackie photo comicsUntil they were just bright paper, like confetti, strewn.
‘The structure of both poems is different. ‘Cousin Kate’ is structured in a formal way which reflects the era in which it was written and its setting. Its structure is comprised of six eight line stanzas. The fact that the poem rhymes allows it to flow easily.
‘I was a cottage maidenHardened by sun and airContented with my cottage matesNot mindful I was fairWhy did a great lord find me outAnd praise my flaxen hair?Why did a great lord find me outTo fill my heart with care?”The Seduction’ is comprised of sixteen four line stanzas, each verse representing one year in the young girls life. ‘The Seduction’ has some rhyme to it but is not as tight as in ‘Cousin Kate’ as it doesn’t flow as easily.The language is different in both poems. ‘Cousin Kate’ was written in the nineteenth century and its language reflects the formality of the period. The words used in ‘Cousin Kate’ would not be used nowadays.
The words are pleasant and they help