Comparing Love Poems Essay

Comparing Love Poems Essay

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When presented with the task of comparing love poetry, the images that instantly sprung into mind were the usual: chocolates, flowers, romance and typical clichés such as “love conquers all” or “all is fair in love and war”. ‘The Seduction’ and ‘Cousin Kate’ however, challenge the reader’s expectation of love poetry by exploring it in more of a deceiving way in which the men take advantage of the women, as opposed to unrealistic and perfect relationships.

‘Cousin Kate’ was written around the Victorian era and is by Christina Rossetti. ‘The Seduction’ was written in the 1980’s or 90’s and is by Eileen McAuley. Although the time periods in which these two poems were written are almost a century and a half apart, you learn that the way society views the two women in these poems hadn’t changed much. The two poems display the differences in male and female attitudes towards love. Both are also unhappy poems as they both contain rejection and humiliation at the end.

‘Cousin Kate’ is about a woman who has a child out of wedlock. Her lover then leaves her for her cousin as she is more beautiful. The cousin is seduced by him as he is wealthy, leaving the woman devastated and left to be shamed by society.

‘The Seduction’ is about a young girl, probably in her teens who is captivated by the charm of another boy and under the influence of alcohol, is coaxed into having sex with him. The repercussions of her actions are not idealistic as she ends up pregnant, leaving her in a state of mental depression.

The themes presented in ‘Cousin Kate’ are those of betrayal, shame and hypocrisy. Betrayal is shown in this poem as the cousin betrays the main character by accepting the lord’s hand in marriage. She mentions that “If you stood...


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... Kate’ there is a regular rhythm as the number of syllables in each line is: 8, 6, 8, 6 whereas, in ‘The Seduction’ there isn’t a regular rhythm. I prefer a regular rhythm as it gives more of a sense of a story being told. The two poems also have a simple structure of action and consequence and the verse length is maintained throughout.

In conclusion, my view on ‘Cousin Kate’ is that it was difficult to understand at first but once you read it through a few more times and begin to read between the lines, it’s message becomes more clear. However, the poem wasn’t that interesting apart from it’s use of similes which I thought was good. ‘The Seduction’ was a poem that was easier to understand and you would know what is going on form the first read. Overall, I thought that MacAuley’s use of poetic devices made it easier to understand and I enjoyed reading the poem.

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