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Poetry Analysis of Robert Burns’ A Red, Red Rose

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The poem A Red, Red Rose is one of the most popular love poems that Robert Burns has written. Its content, form and style are harmoniously interwoven to come up with a beautiful literary piece. Thus, this essay will analyze the content, form, and style of this poem.

The poem is an expression of the speaker’s love for his sweetheart. The first stanza begins with praise for the beauty of his loved-one. She is compared to a beautiful red rose which has just blossomed and to a beautiful music which is very sweet to the ears. She is indeed very beautiful. The second and third stanzas express his deep and endless love for his loved-one. His love will last even if the seas will run dry or if the rocks will melt with the heat of the sun. The fourth and last stanza states that he has to say goodbye for a short time but he promises to come back even though it means traveling a great distance.

The form of the poem is equally beautiful as its content. It is a love lyric of four stanzas consisting of quatrains or four lines. Each stanza has alternating iambic tetrameter in the first and third lines, and iambic trimester in its second and fourth lines. The rhyme scheme is a, b, c, b in the first stanza, d, e, f, e in the second stanza, f, g, f, g in the third stanza and h, i, h, i. in the fourth stanza.

The style of the poem is naturally endearing. The speaker of the poem is the poet himself. His tone is bright, cheerful, and happy. This is reinforced by the images that the poem contains which appeal to the senses. In the first stanza, the image of “a red rose/ That’s newly sprung in June” (ll. 1-2) appeals to the sense of sight and the image of a “melody/ That’s sweetly play’d in tune” (ll. 3-4) appeals to the sense of hearing.  The second stanza includes images of “my bonnie lass” (l. 5) and “the seas gang dry” (l.8). The third stanza has images of “a’the seas gang dry” (l. 9), “the rocks melt wi’ the sun” (l.10), and “the sands o’ life shall run” (l. 12). The image that can be found in the fourth stanza is “ten thousand mile!” (l.16).The poem also uses effective figures of speech. The similes are “my luve is like a red, red rose” found in line 1 and “my luve is like a melodie” in line 3. Hyperboles which are at the same time apostrophes are found in the second and third stanzas such as “And I will luve thee still, my dear, / Till a’the seas gang dry” in lines 7 to 8 and “Till a’the seas gang dry, my dear, / And the rocks melt wi’the sun” in lines 9 to 10. A rather obscure metaphor is found in the fourth stanza which says “I will come again, my luve, / Though it were ten thousand mile!” (ll. 11-12). The sound effects in the poem involve the use of alliteration in the first line which is “O my luve is like a red, red rose”, and in the last line which is “Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!”.

In conclusion, the poem’s message, the similes, the vivid images, the highly effective hyperboles, the alliterations and the exuberant tone of the poem make Robert Burns’ A Red, Red Rose a very beautiful love lyric.

Work Cited

Burns, Robert. “A Red, Red Rose”.  A Little Literature. Eds. Barnet, Sylavan, Burto, William and Cain, William E. 442-443.

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