Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) is remarkable for his sentimental poetry. Most of his poems deal with common human problems.
Poem in Brief:
“Lord Ullin’s Daughter” is a ballad which tells the tragic story of the daughter of Lord Ullin and her lover who die a very sorrowful death when chased by her father and his men. The poem begins with the daughter and her lover, the Scottish chieftain arriving at the banks of Lochgyle with the intention of eloping to a safer place. The lover offers the boatman a silver pound to cross them to safety. The weather is stormy and it is very dangerous to cross the Lochgyle in such a state. The lover introduces himself as the chief of Ulva and that he is running from Lord Ullin’s men. He tells the boatman that if the Lord’s men catch him eloping with her daughter, they would immediately slay him. The boatman hesitates because agreeing can cost him all of the three lives. Then the beautiful daughter of Lord Ullin pleads to the boatman; she says that she is ready to face the raging storm but not her angry father. Finally, the boatman agrees to take them across Lochgyle.
The boat has left the shore when Lord Ullin and his men reach. Lord Ullin’s anger evaporates at the moment when he sees his darling daughter fighting with Nature’s fury on the sea. His heart melts and he cries out to her to return and that he would accept her lover. But it is too late and before the Lord could do anything, the little boat capsizes and the three of them are drowned in the turbulent waters of Lochgyle.
1. “The water-wraith was shrieking.” Bring out the symbolism in the line.
The water wraith is the spirit of the lake. The water of Lochgyle has become turbulent and very noisy due to the storm. ‘Shrieking’ here refers to the lamenting of the water. The poet has used a symbolism to prepare the reader for what is going to happen. The spirit of the lake seems to be lamenting at the imminent death of the two lovers.
2. Why does the poet use words like ‘adown’ and ‘rode’ which contain harsh syllables?
The poet uses such harsh syllables to convey the anger and the fury of man in contrast to that of nature’s fury.
3. “The boat has left a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her,”
a) In the first two lines ‘stormy’ refers to two different things. What are they?
In the first line, ‘stormy’ refers to an angry father while in the second line it refers to the tempest that had taken place.
b) The lady faces a dilemma here. What is it about?
Her dilemma is whether she should face the angry storm at the sea or her father’s wrath.
4. Give two qualities of the boatman as apparent in the poem, “Lord Ullin’s Daughter.”
The boatman is a kind as well as valiant man. He agrees to take the lovers across the sea even in such a terrible storm. This shows his valiant nature as well as his kindness towards the lady and his lover.
5. Explain the following phrases:
a) “bonny bird”- It refers to the beautiful bride and daughter of Lord Ullin. Bonny means charming.
b) “fatal shore”- “Fatal shore” is a transferred epithet. It is called ‘fatal’ because the daughter of Lord Ullin will face her death as she leaves the shore.
6. Give a few examples of alliteration from the poem.
The examples of alliteration are:
a. hardy Highland
b. human hand
d. storm and shade
e. water wild went
Suggested Reading: Summary of Lord Ullin’s Daughter in Hindi