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What is the emotional effect of the refrain's variation in the fifth stanza of "Lord...

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ladykg

Posted September 30, 2013 at 10:17 PM via web

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What is the emotional effect of the refrain's variation in the fifth stanza of "Lord Randall"?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 30, 2013 at 11:47 PM (Answer #1)

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For five stanzas of the Scottish folk ballad "Lord Randall," the poor young man in the narrative ends his short conversation with his mother with this line:

For I'm wearied wi huntin, and fain wad lie down.

In those five stanzas, we learn that he has lost his hawk and his hounds. It is in the fifth stanza that we learn that the woman he loves fed him fried eels and tried to poison him; we know this because he gave some to his hawk and his hounds and they promptly died.

The sixth stanza begins with his mother telling him he has been poisoned (which he already knows) and ends with a new refrain:

For I'm sick at the heart, and fain wad lie down.

The emotional impact of this change is that we understand his heavy heart at having been deceived and tricked by someone he loves; knowing that she tried to kill him is even more devastating both to him and to us. He is not just tired from hunting; he is heartsore because his true love betrayed him. 

His mother continues with her questioning, asking her son what he is going to do about it. None of his answers make him happy, as he knows he is going to die, and we are not allowed to forget that as we read that final line over and over again. Finally, his mother finishes her questions by asking what he is going to leave to his "true love." He does not even have the energy to express the great bitterness he must feel. He just says:

"I leave her hell and fire; mother mak my bed soon,
For I'm sick at the heart, and I fain wad lie down."

His heart's sickness and his body's sickness are going to kill him. 

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