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Explication of Ballade of Worldly Wealth - Essay Sample

4 pages
984 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Explicating a poem involves analyzing and developing a particular idea to show the exact meaning intended by the writer. This essay aims at clarifying the structure, tone, mood, and the overall purpose of the poem "Ballade of Worldly Wealth." It also aims at bringing out the theme of the piece as well as showing the effectiveness of the poem passing out a particular message.

The subject of the poem is money and how it has brought out more evil then good among people. Corruption results from people who values money as the power. The author explains what money can do and how it can change people to become evil and inhuman. The tone of the poem reflects a negative attitude towards money. The poem sets off a bad mood about money and how people use it for bad intentions. The authors imply that money has brought the greater bad in people than good ("Ballade of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018). The speaker in the Ballad of worldly wealth is the author, Andrew Lang. he speaks his point of view about money and how people can choose to use it for good or bad intentions.

The audience of the poem seems to be the people living in the author's town or community. He mentions the priests, soldiers, merchants and captains who are some of the essential people found in the town. The setting of the poem is at a city where the author observes people use their money to purchase expensive things just because they possess a lot of money. Also, they have people working for the sake of getting more money and not for the key purpose of serving their town. It appears to be presented sometime in the 1800-1900's ("Ballade of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018). The poem takes the nature of ballad, which involves a story narrated in the form of a poem or a song usually in short stanzas. The story brought out by the poem is that money hold the power of goodness and evil, and it only depends on the intentions and thoughts of the person in its possession.

The poem is formed with three stanzas each with eight lines. The end of the lines presents a rhythm. Each line builds up an idea aimed towards bringing the overall intention of a complete stanza. In the first stanza of the poem, for instance, the author talks about how "money taketh town and wall" and how "money moves the merchants all." These sentences imply that money can make people take control of a town and make the merchants more aggressive due to money and not for their work. Most sentences in the poem begin with the word money, which implies that money is the subject and also describes the bad choices people make for the sake of money as well ("Ballade Of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018). Soldiers' main role is to protect their community, but the author implies that they do it because of money, "marches soldiers to and fro," which is self-centered. The two last lines of the stanzas, "these alone can ne'er bestow youth, and health, and paradise," show the expectations people have when they get money, but greedy and selfishness encompass them after getting money, and hence they fail to achieve the paradise they thought.

The author uses repetition to sensitize on some facts. For example, the lines "these alone can ne'er bestow youth and health, and paradise" appear at the end of every stanza. The author insists on reminding people of what they expect to do with money against what happens when they have it. Rhetorical pattern is another style noted in the poem. The words like taketh" and "maketh," "festival," "straw," "tall," "throw" and "fro" at the end of the sentences of the poem bring out a rhythm. Besides, the authors also apply end rhythm. For instance, "Place of penitence supplies" and then follows after one line, "youth, and health, and paradise" ("Ballade of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018)

The poem's main aim is to portray money as the propelling force behind people's actions. Money can make people do great things but can also push people to do bad things. A soldier that fights to earn lacks the human drive that fights for the nation. The author insists that money causes more harm than good, changes people to be worst and makes people do things that are so demeaning ("Ballade Of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018).

The author uses different patterns to develop the poem. The statements, "Money wins the priest his stall" and "Money maketh sin as snow" imply the fact that the priests perform their duties because of the money they get from it, and that money can make bad actions go unpunished because money "cleanses" evil deeds. Through the poem we learn how people can repeat doing the wrongs things every day for the sake of money. Other people tag along with a job they do not like because of the amount of money they get from it. The poem has many similar endings like "maketh," "truth," "health," "youth" and "taketh" that make the poem sound rhythmic because they end with a similar sound "the" ("Ballade Of Worldly Wealth Poem by Andrew Lang - Poem Hunter", 2018)

In conclusion, the author well captures his or her intentions of the poem. The poem puts its point across well, that the goodness or badness of money is determined by the actions and intentions of the person using it. There are rich people out there using their money wisely and for the greater good of other people but the bigger percentage of people are lost in their intentions and greediness.


Lang A., (2018). Ballade of Worldly Wealth Poem. Retrieved January 27th 2018.


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