“Ballad” is a poem about a young woman who is seduced by a Shepard and falls pregnant, and then is left to raise her child alone, a child that brings her shame and everyday reminds her of her regrets. “Cousin Kate” by Christina Georgina Rossetti is relatively similar in the sense that it also portrays a woman being fooled by a man and later discovering she is carrying his baby.
The author of “Ballad” is unknown, it simply states “anon” (anonymous) By using the first person, telling the story using words such as “I”, “me” and “my”, the poet is adopting a persona, this may or may not be the poet, however this technique does the experience seem more real for the reader, you feel more as if the narrator is speaking to you, and telling you their story. This makes the reader feel more involved and therefore feel more sympathy for their situation.
Cousin Kate, on the other hand, has the narrator talking to her cousin, “O cousin Kate, my love was true” Both the poems seem to be written in the time when sex before marriage was unacceptable, let alone having a child by a man you had no intention of marrying. “My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride” Rossetti shows that although the woman should be proud of her first born, all she feels is shame. Similarly in “Ballad”, “I wish, my child, thou’dst ne-er been born” both women are left vulnerable and humiliated.
There are several points in each poem in which both the women appear confused, and angry. The final stanza of “Cousin Kate” is purely the narrators way of revenge, “yet I’ve a gift you have not got, and seem not like to get” Kate has taken her cousins lover and made a husband out of him, however it seems as if Kate cannot have children, and even is she could she’ll never have his first son. “Ballad”, features no such vengeance for the victim. I wish, I wish – but it’s in vain – I wish I was a maid again” the repetition puts emphasis on what is being said. She desperately wants to go back to being pure. The stanza finishes with “O when will green grass cover me? ” this could reflect her true feelings; it could also be her anger towards the way this man has treated her. She frequently mentions wishing her child had never been born; this again could be her anger rather than her true feelings.
Although the poems are based around the same concept, of a woman being seduced and then left to deal with raising a child in a society that does not approve of single mothers, they are very different in the ways they are written and what messages the poets are trying to put across. In “Cousin Kate” for example, the message is more about being hurt not only by a man, which she expected, but by her cousin, “Ballad on the other hand is more to do with a woman who is fooled by a man and then later left to deal with it alone, with no reward, no revenge, nothing to make it better.