Lord Ullin's Daughter

by Thomas Campbell

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What poetic devices are used in "Lord Ullin's Daughter"?

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Thomas Campbell uses a number of poetic devices in his poem “Lord Ullin’s Daughter.” Campbell uses alliteration, enjambment, an ABAB rhyming scheme, personification, and strong imagery in this ballad.

In each stanza, the last word in line one rhymes with the last word in line three, while line two rhymes with line four. In the first stanza, “bound” rhymes with “pound,” and “tarry” rhymes with “ferry.”  In addition, lines three and four are an example of enjambment. One line flows into the other to complete the thought.

A chieftain, to the Highlands bound,

Cries, "Boatman, do not tarry!

And I'll give thee a silver pound

To row us o'er the ferry!''

In the first line of the fourth stanza, which is line thirteen, there is an example of alliteration: “His horsemen hard.” Examples of alliteration are also found in the first line of the next stanza: "bonny bird." In the second line of stanza seven there is also an example of personification. The author gives the water human qualities by saying, “The water-wraith was shrieking.”

There is another example of personification in stanza nine. The last two lines state, “Though wild windstorm is there she would prefer to face the anger of the sky than to face her angry father.” The sky being angry is personification, and the “wild windstorm” is alliteration.

Throughout the poem the author presents strong imagery of the stormy seas, and the lovers’ plight upon the water as they flee from Lord Ullin. He is left to watch the small boat sink as he loses his daughter. The reader can hear the “loud waves” and feel their strength as they hit the sand. And again in the last two lines there is alliteration in "wild waters” and “left lamenting.”

'Twas vain: the loud waves lash'd the shore,

Return or aid preventing:

The waters wild went o'er his child,

And he was left lamenting.

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What are the literary poetic features of the poem, "Lord Ullin's Daughter"?

In order to recognise and understand the features of the poem 'Lord Ullin's Daughter' by Thomas Campbell it is useful to look at the life and background of Thomas Campbell himself.Thomas Campbell lived from 1777-1844 and was born in Scotland. He wrote works seen as sentimental poetry about ordinary people's lives and social concerns. Thomas Campbell also wrote 'The Pleasures of Hope', a traditional tale during the 18th century written in heroic couplets. Campbell was also known for writing rousing patriotic action songs. When we put all this together with Scotland's remote beauty and its background of a clan society with heroes and chieftains and family bonds where warriors dashed off to battles to defend each other, then we can see that the canvas is perfect for Romantic poetry , especially ballads.

Lord Ullin's Daughter is one such poem. Inspirational and tragic at the same time, it portrays young love and young death, all interspersed with the fear and beauty of a huge storm and a watery end. It tells the story of a Scottish Chieftain and his beloved sweetheart who elope from her angry father. Sadly, their disobedience causies their deaths, under the whipped up waves of a storm-lashed sea. The poem features vivid images, emotive subject matter, traditional historical background and romantic effects. The sad and sorrowful tale of young love is usually guaranteed an appreciative audience, even in the modern sophistiated media driven world of today. Other suitable readings could be authors such as RLStevenson and Sir Walter Scott.


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