I will be comparing the poems ‘Cousin Kate’ by Christina Rosetti and ‘The Seduction’ by Eileen McAuley. After reading both of these poems I have found that there are many similarities but also many differences. ‘The Seduction’ and ‘Cousin Kate’ are both written in a narrative style and set in stanzas. ‘Cousin Kate’ is split up into six stanzas, each with eight lines. ‘Cousin Kate’ is in the form of a letter from the maid to Kate to explain how she feels. The first two stanzas talk about meeting the Lord and their relationship. The third and fourth stanzas talk about Kate breaking them up and Kate’s relationship.
Finally stanzas five and six talk about how the maid feels she is better off than Kate and how she has her son. The poem is split up in this way to give a sense of pace and rhythm. What happens to the girl is predictable and so the rhyming scheme reflects this. ‘The Seduction’ is split up into fifteen stanzas, 14 with 14 lines each and one with 8 lines. The 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th and 8th stanzas talk about what happens after the party, at the Docks. This is fairly unorganised, representing how unorganised the girls feelings are and how she keeps looking back hoping to change the past.
Stanzas 2, 3, and 4 talk about how they met at the party and what they talked about. Stanza 9 (the longest stanza) is about how the girl feels when she finds out she is pregnant. Stanzas 10, 11, 12 and 13 are where the girl is questioning herself about her future and in stanzas 14 and 15 she has decided that she would rather die than be seen pregnant. It is organised in this way in the later stages of the poem to split it up into understandable sections. The themes of the two poems are also very similar. They both talk about pregnancy and relationships.
In both poems the women become attracted to men, become pregnant and are then left. In ‘Cousin Kate’ the maid is more worried about being left by the lord, as although her son is illegitimate she is proud of him. In ‘The Seduction’, the girl is more worried about becoming pregnant. This is because the girl isn’t even 16 when she falls pregnant and feels she has missed out on her life. In both poems the male is in charge of the relationships. In ‘Cousin Kate’ the maid says “he lured me to his palace home” and in ‘The Seduction’ the poem says “he led her to the quiet bricks of Birkenhead docks”.
In ‘Cousin Kate’, the maid who the poem was about, it is written in first person narrative, tells the story. This is because it is in the form of a letter. In ‘The Seduction’, the poem is written in the third person. ‘Cousin Kate’ is about a cottage maiden who is seduced by a powerful, rich lord. The lord then left the maid, and married her cousin, Kate. The maid talks about how everyone thinks Kate is good and pure but they say the maid is unclean, and an outcast. The cottage maiden has a son by the lord which although she is quite ashamed of him being illegitimate, she is proud of him.
She says “my fair-haired son, my shame my pride”. The maid also knows that Kate is unable to have children and the lord desperately wants a son to become his heir. ‘The Seduction’ is also about a young girl being seduced. The girl gets drunk at a party and meets a man who appears to be older than her. The girl fell pregnant and then worries about what will happen to her teenage years. She says it would be better to starve yourself than to be pregnant and for everyone to make assumptions. The two poems are both set in different times and different places.
‘Cousin Kate’ was written in about 1860. ‘The Seduction’ is set in the 1990s. ‘Cousin Kate’ is set in the countryside. The cottage maiden says “I was a cottage maiden, hardened by sun and air”. This tells me that she was used to being outside and wasn’t protected. The poem also says that the lord watched Kate at work. It says “he watched your steps along the lane, your work among the rye. ” This tells me that both the maid and Kate were farm workers and so, not very well off. The setting of ‘The Seduction’ was very different. The actual seduction was not very glamorous at all.
The poem says “he led her to the quiet bricks of Birkenhead docks”. The poem tells us that he led her there so they could not be seen. We are also told that the boy sat down in the darkness. Another phrase used to describe the setting is “the Mersey, green as a septic wound”. We are also told that the girl sits facing the “frightening scum on the water” these images are not very pleasant, and so neither was the place where the seduction actually occurred. The poem creates an idea of the maids’ feelings in ‘Cousin Kate’. The maid says “contented with my cottage mates”; this is before she meets the lord.
This tells us that before the maid met the lord she was very happy with her life and not worried about anything. The phrase “woe’s me for joy thereof” tells me that the maid was upset because she didn’t have fun anymore. She feels that the lord has taken away her life and the fun she used to have with her friends. The maid is now full of sadness. Later in the poem, the maid says “now I moan an unclean thing”. The maid feels that she has been spoilt or at least tainted by the lord. Before she met him the maid was clean and pure. “Even so I sit and howl in dust” tells me that the maid was very upset by being rejected by the lord.