Lady Mary Wortley Montague's The Lover: A Ballad
Literature is a form of art with many facets, many obvious and others subtle. The surface of literature can be composed of many elements such as genre, form, rhythm, tone, diction, sentence structure, etc. Time periods, authors’ personal style and type of work all determine what elements are used in the literature. The deeper more subtle side of literature is the use of symbolism, imagery and the significance of the work. In most works of literature, parallels can be drawn between the author’s personality and current life’s events through the subject matter, the characters, and the use of specific literary techniques. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s use of literary techniques in the first two stanzas of The Lover: A Ballad, are consistent throughout the six stanza ballad identifying and refuting the ways in which women were defined by literature of the 18th century era.
“At length, by so much importunity pressed, Take (Molly) at once the inside of my breast; This stupid indifference so often you blame Is not owing to nature, to fear, or to shame; I am not as cold as a virgin in lead, Nor is Sunday’s sermon so strong in my head; I know but too well how time flies along, That we live but few years and yet fewer are young.
But I hate to be cheated, and never will buy
Long years of repentance for moments of joy.
Oh was there a man (but where shall I find
Good sense, and good nature so equally joined?)
Would value his pleasure, contribute to mine,
Not meanly would boast, nor lewdly design,
Not over severe, yet not stupidly vain,
For I would have the power through not give the pain”
The ballad has been traditionally known as the earliest form of poetry in conjunction with the folk world. It is one of lyrical work, usually in a simple song or dance form eluding to its’ roots in oral presentation among the rural culture. The ballad commonly uses simple language and can be in the form of 3rd person, dialogue or a
combination of the two. The ballad form generally shortens action in that it focus’ on a single, usually, climactic event and eludes to the building and conclusion of this event. Coincidentally, the rural roots of ballads parallel the themes that generally deal with basic aspects of life, such as; love and death, but seem to have a supernatural element. “The quatrain, a stanza of four lines, rhymed or unrhymed, is the
most common of all English stanzaic forms. And the most common type of quatrain is the ballad stanza, in which lines of iambic tetrameter alternate with trimeter, rhyming abcb (lines 1 and 3 being unrhymed) or, less commonly abab” (Fergueson, 1114). Montagu uses
many of these elements in that she stays remains consistent with the theme of ballads and writes about love. The supernatural aspect to her ballad is not necessarily supernatural, but in fact leans to Greek mythology. Her conclusion ends with reference to Ovid alluding to The...