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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 536
  • Category: Poetry

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The “Ballade Of Worldly Wealth” by Andrew Lang is a poem of warning. The setting could be any town because the speaker mentions places and things that could be found anywhere, like merchants, soldiers, and priests. Although this poem was written in the 19th century, the audience could be from any period of time because money has always been around, along with the troubles it can bring. Lang’s theme throughout the poem is that there is danger when we seek to obtain monetary wealth. Using rhetorical patterns and a Haiku structure with an end rhyme scheme, Lang takes the readers through a cautionary explanation; Money might be necessary, but too much of it can be dangerous. Lang begins stanza one by personifying money as something that can physically persuade a town, talking control of it. He writes that “money taketh town and wall” (1), meaning that money invades a town and ultimately usurps power. It can do this by disguising itself as “Good” and “Truth” (6). But, as Lang points out, beneath this façade lurks “Evil” (5). Because money is sinister, it can “ne’er bestow Youth, and Health, and Paradise” (7-8).

This parallelism that Lang uses in each stanza expresses the notion that money cannot buy or provide these virtues. This imagery continues in stanza two where Lang describes how cunning money is in persuading people to go to war over it. In addition, the idea in “Money maketh festival, Wine she buys, and beds can strow” (1-2) that the objects money can buy are fleeting, with no lasting value. The notion that men would lose their lives in battle over money indicates the power money can have over human reason. When Lang writes of “soldiers marching to and fro” (5), he is demonstrating that the pursuit of money is ongoing. The parallelism of evil remains in the line “Gaineth ladies with sweet eyes” (6), suggesting that there are those who would be attracted to another purely for the sake of money. Once more Lang underscores the parallel role of money as evil in the first line of the third stanza.

His statement that “Money wins the priest his stall” (1) clearly reveals that even those who we expect to be immune to the temptation of money can be stained. “Money maketh sin as snow” (5), is a metaphor cleverly used by Lang to show the contrast between good and bad. Most people view snow as something pure and evil as something bad. Lang again asserts that with enough money a “Place of penitence supplies” (6), meaning that with enough money, even evil can be made good. From the very beginning, Lang mentions money, and he carries the theme that money is more often a bad thing throughout the poem. With the use of personification, imagery, parallelism, and metaphor, the reader understands the concept that money can, and does, corrupt even the most honest of people. His ideas about money in the 19th century are true today. It’s true that money is needed to survive, but there comes a point when one acquires too much wealth, and that wealth can become a weapon that controls a person’s sense of right and wrong.

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