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Study Questions

Lord Randall Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. How does the ballad's formulaic question-and-answer set-up affect you, as a reader/listener? Does it contribute to the poem's dramatic form? How does it create a sense of suspense?
  2. The poem is evasive about certain things. For example, we don't know why Lord Randall's lover poisons him. How does this denial of information contribute to your reading of the poem in any way? Or is it just confusing?
  3. What, in your opinion, is the significance of Lord Randall's refrain ("mother make my bed soon / for I'm weary wi' hunting and fain wald lie down")? How does its meaning change over the course of the poem?
  4. Brokenhearted love songs are a classic form that we can trace throughout the ages. Can you think of any examples from our own time? More specifically, the idea of love as a poison or somehow dangerous substance is even something that we see recurring—in a tongue-in-cheek way—in songs like Britney Spears's "Toxic," or Ke$ha's "Your Love is My Drug," or, of course, the super-nineties Bell Biv DeVoe classic, "Poison." Can you think of any others? Why might songwriters choose to write about love this way?
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