Pat Benatar said it best: love is a battlefield. Though "Lord Randall" is about death, loss, and betrayal, it's also classic tearjerker about the consequences of love. The reason it's so sad is because it's got longing and misery all tied up together. Love songs about happy shiny people living happy shiny lives are all well and good, but more often than not, you just want to sit around with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and listen to something that'll really tug—or in this case, strum—at the heartstrings.
Questions About Love
How do we know that the source of Lord Randall's melancholy is love?
What do we learn about Lord Randall's lover? Is she important at all in the poem? Why do you think her character (if we can even call it that) doesn't appear directly?
What kind of depiction of love does this quietly tragic poem present?
Chew on This
Lord Randall's statements that he is "weary," and eventually "sick at the heart" express sadness and resignation rather than resentment at his true love's betrayal, depicting love in a contemplative, rather than passionate, light.
Love hurts, and that's what "Lord Randall" is all about. No matter how you feel about someone, you never know when they're gonna up and poison your eels.