A Red, Red Rose

A Red, Red Rose

by Robert Burns

O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Literary Analysis

The poem “A Red, Red Rose” expresses the theme of intense love. The poet seeks to strike a balance between eternal and temporal forms of love in this poem, reminding the readers of the fact that beauty is transitory, but love is eternal. The speaker is the poet himself, talking about his beloved, Jean Armour, a Scottish woman with whom he was deeply in love with. The title of the poem A Red, Red Rose” is about love that will never die even if the whole world is destroyed – actually a hyperbolic expression.

The poem is set in the countryside of Scotland. The tone is full of optimism and jubilation. The poet opens the poem by symbolizing his love with a red rose:O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose,” which he says is “newly sprung in June.” Following his intense emotions, he further elaborates his love as a beautiful melody: O my Luve’s like the melodie / That’s sweetly play’d in tune!” He explains her beauty, saying that she is “As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,in whichthe term“As fair as thou”implies that Jean is a bright, lovely, and smart woman, who enlightens the poet and makes everything charming. He assures his beloved that he will love her even if the long distance separates them “And I will luve thee still, my dear” even if “the seas gang dry.”

In the next stanza, the poet repeats this line, and emphasizes his persistence in love despite the distance between them. In Robert Burns’s life, he traveled to Jamaica, because Jean’s father rejected their union. In this poem, he convinces her that his journey to another world is nothing for his love. Although, the poet regrets going away from her, he depicts it as merely a temporary distance “And fare thee weel a while!” By the end, he promises And I will come again, my Luve.” The promise is that despite saying goodbye to her, and despite the distance of ten thousand miles, he would come back to her.

Structural Analysis

The poet has written this poem in the form of a ballad, and divided it into four stanzas with four lines in each stanza. The rhyme scheme is quite regular. It is ABCB, as shown below:

O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose   A
That’s newly sprung in June:            B
O my Luve’s like the melodie             C
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!           B

The metrical pattern is alternative iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter as in O my Luv’s like a Red, Red Rose/ That’s newly sprung in June.” The first half of the poem follows the ballad meter, while the second half follows common meter (in which first and third, second and fourth lines rhyme with each other.) The poet uses simile in the first and third lines of the poem, in which he compares his love with a blooming rose and a sweet melody as, O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose / That’s newly sprung in June.” The poet employs hyperbole by making exaggerated promises, which are difficult to fulfill like, And I will luve thee still, my dear / Till a’ the seas gang dry” and “And the rocks melt wi’ the sun.” Alliteration is frequently used such as “l” and “r” sounds in “O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose.” The phrase “And I will” is repeated in third line of three stanzas. The diction of the poem is figurative.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

This poem is originally a dedication to the dearest love of the poet. The poet claims and makes promises to his beloved that he will love her even until the seas dry up or the sun melts the rocks or life stops. By saying all this, the lover assures her of his faithful love that no distance could destroy. Therefore, the poem is applicable to all lovers. They can choose quotes from this poem and express their love as:

“O my Luve’s like a Red, Red Rose
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune!…

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:”