Cousin Kate Analysis
First of all, I would like to say that I own nothing. I did not write the poem I am analysing and nor will I be making any money out of this. I'm writing this as a way to sort out my notes for my GCSE English Poetry and only posting this so if there's anyone else doing this poem and needs help in understanding or thinks they need more notes, this is for them/you and I hope they/you find this interesting and helpful.
Cousin Kate is a poem about a young woman who is seduced by a Lord. He soon casts her by and marries her cousin Kate instead, leaving behind a broken-hearted cottage maiden. The maiden is soon classed as a fallen woman and is treated like an outcast in society. She is bitter and jealous of her cousin but soon reveals that she has the one thing her cousin does not and desperately wants: a son and heir to the Lord.
In this analysis, I will be going through each and every line of the poem. I will give keywords and themes for each stanza and point out any techniques used that would be helpful in exams. These are my own notes written with my own hand on my A3 size 'Cousin Kate' poem. My notes are all that I own; the poem belongs to Christina Rossetti (RIP).
For those who have yet to read Cousin Kate, here's the poem for you:
By Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
I was a cottage maiden
Hardened by sun and air,
Contented with my cottage mates,
Not mindful I was fair.
Why did a great lord find me out,
And praise my flaxen hair?
Why did a great lord find me out
To fill my heart with care?
He lured me to his palace home
Woe's me for joy thereof
To lead a shameless shameful life,
His plaything and his love.
He wore me like a silken knot,
He changed me like a glove;
So now I moan, an unclean thing.
Who might have been a dove.
O Lady Kate, my cousin Kate,
You grew more fair than I:
He saw you at your father's gate,
Chose you, and cast me by.
He watched your steps along the lane,
Your work among the rye;
He lifted you from mean estate
To sit with him on high.
Because you were so good and pure
He bound you with his ring:
The neighbours call you good and pure,
Call me an outcast thing.
Even so I sit and howl in dust,
You sit in gold and sing:
Now which of us has tenderer heart?
You had the stronger wing.
O cousin Kate, my love was true.
Your love was writ in sand:
If he fooled not me but you,
If you stood where I stand,
He'd not have won me with his love
Nor bought me with his land;
I would have spit into his face
And not have taken his hand.
Yet I've a gift you have not got,
And seem not like to get:
For all your clothes and wedding-ring
I little doubt you fret.
My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,
Cling close, closer yet:
Your father would give lands for one
To wear his coronet.