In Lang’s poem “The Ballade of Worldly Wealth”, Lang describes the state of the people around him during his time and the truths they had all carried when it concerned monetary wealth. Lang uses repetitive phrases in order to implicate that wealth can be either good or bad depending on how it is used, and describes, essentially, how it can easily make something good something bad “in a snap”. The types of people used to carry on his story come from all sorts of walks of life and varying occupations. “Red hats for the Cardinal / Abbeys for the novice low” is a perfectly good example of this, solidifying that these types of people-meaning those from all walks of life-are the subject matter and, therefore, the poem’s audience as well.
While reading “The Ballade of Worldly Wealth”, it is hard not to imagine Lang’s overall negative vision very closely to how he likely saw it as he authored this poem. This vision is, of course, one that is incredibly sinful for the most part, despite hints of positive notes littered near the end of the poem. Since people in this poem are so engrossed with money, they have been corrupted to the point of no return. All they care about is money.
Lang hit the nail right on the head when he was depicting exactly why it wasn’t right of one to think of only his economic state. Money does not bring all of life’s basic necessities to the table-it does not bring love. It does not bring any particular hope or belief, nor does it provide you with family, or friends, or anyone to be loved or loved by. Therefore, money is nothing more than a physical value. Therefore, money is hardly anything at all in the grand scheme of things.
In Lang’s world envisioned, however, all that the citizens of this world think of is, to a “T”, money. Thus, these people find themselves constantly pining for more money and more gold to outweigh one someone else’s bank account. In the end, this greed only brings about anger and hatred of one another, and could only encourage more sins to be committed through one’s ravenous insatiability. Essentially, the idea that self-indulgence hurts those self-indulging too much is solidified.
With repetition cued as his major weapon, Andrew Lang has successfully designed a purely-effective piece of poetry with “The Ballade of Worldly Wealth”. Through use of said repetition, he had painted the picture of a community starved of any true love or happiness, engulfed in the darkness of greed and gluttony, as perfectly as it could have been done. Guised by the basic cosmetics of common society seen many an era before and beyond, the people of “The Ballade of Worldly Wealth” are similar to those people of today and yesterday, only much more pitiful, and represent a very real problem with certain others in modern history. The word here is “wealth”, and it is quite powerful.