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Compare and contrast ‘Cousin Kate’ and ‘The Birthday’ by Christina Rosseti.

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Assignment 3 - Poetry Compare and contrast 'Cousin Kate' and 'The Birthday' by Christina Rosseti. Your response should explore the meaning of each poem, the similarities and differences between the poems and the impact they have on you. CHRISTINA ROSSETI Christina Rosseti was an 19th century poet. She was born in London on the 5th December 1830 to Gabriele and Frances Rosseti. In 1848 she became engaged to James Collinson, one of the pre-Raphaelite brethren. The engagement fell through when he became Roman Catholic. From the early 1860's on she was in love with Charles Cayley but refused to marry him because he was not a Christian and Milk-and-water Anglicanism was not to her taste. She was proud of her expertise at the game of chess that she liked to win but felt guilt at taking pleasure in winning. So she gave up chess because she enjoyed it so much. She also pasted paper strips over the antireligous parts of Swinburne's Atalanta in Calydon; objected to nudity in paintings, especially if the artist was a women; and refused to go see Wagner's Parsifal, because it celebrated a pagan mythology. A BIRTHDAY My heart is like a singing bird Whose nest is in a watered shoot: My heart is like an apple-tree Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these Because my love is come to me. ...read more.


In either case she feels guilt for doing so. Because of this she has disguised her feeling in the poem by suggesting she is going to die or has died and that 'her love' is the love of God. Cousin Kate 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? This is a narrative poem that tells of a girl who goes from being a poor maiden to a mother of a lord's son. The first thing we learn about the narrator, in the first stanza is that she is a maiden so she is unmarried and young. The lines 'hardened by sun and air' suggest she lives out in the country and her family works the land. He lured me to his palace home- Woes 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. The way the second stanza starts saying the narrator was 'lured' to the lords palace shows she was tricked into coming close and she feels like his prey. ...read more.


She also blames the lord for what happened saying how he 'fooled' her. This seemed to say that the lord led her to believe he loved her and would marry her but was only using her. Yet I've a gift you have not got, And seem not like to get: For all your cloths and wedding ring I've little dought you fret. My fair haired son, my shame, my pride, Cling closer, closer yet: Your father would give lands for one To wear his coronet. This is where the story is brought to an end, although the narrator seems to have nothing left we now learn that she is a mother but Kate is not and may never be. For the Victorian times when Christina Rosette was writing people frowned greatly on nudity and sexual references (they even covered the legs of tables so the sight of a naked leg didn't shock women). So she must have suffered great criticism for most of her work including 'The Birthday' and 'Cousin Kate'. These poems are both about love but are hard to compare, as the Birthday is purely about emotion where as the Cousin Kate poem is narrative. Both poems talk about love. The Birthday talks about positive things and Cousin Kate is negative, from the narrators point of view she has lost everything because she loved the lord. ...read more.

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