Analysis of A Red Red Rose

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A Red Red Rose by Robert Burns is a romantic love poem which shows much emphasis on the poet`s feelings. The poem is written in a four-line stanza format containing rhyme, line themes, metaphors, character narration, a poem plot, and other poetic techniques. The essay will make an analysis of each line of the stanzas, to determine the message of the poet and the poetic techniques he applied in bringing out the creativity of the poem. The theme of the poem is love itself and not really about the bonnie lass mentioned in the poem. The essay will prove this by assessing the ideas, symbols and all other aspects that substantiate Burn`s underlying intention of expressing his love.


My love is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June:

My love is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in love am I:

And I will love 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:

And I will love thee still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only love

And fare thee weel a while!

And I will come again, my love,

Thou’ it were ten thousand mile

Love in the Poem

             The opening line of the poem has a metaphor where he compares his love with rose flowers sprung in June. The line shows an emerging profound love that had just begun. The poet was going through a young and fresh loving stage. The emerging love is associated with a spring season where flowers bloom and develop. The rose flower has been a historical symbol of love that started during Greek and Roman ancient period. Other poetic techniques of the poet`s tone can be shown with the repetition of the word ‘red’ in the first line. The second line also contains a metaphor where Burns compares his profound love with a melody, a significant indication of a relationship between a love song and the poem (Bainton and Burns 2011, p.2).  Repetition of the words “my love” in the first and third line shows emphasis on his feelings and a strong foundation of his new love. Generally, the first stanza uses the technique of imagery to create a mental picture to the reader or poem reciter. Words such as sweet, love like melody and love like red create a wider imagination of the context.

            The second stanza describes the beauty aspects of the lady, that make Burns fall for her in a deep sense of love. The first line of the second stanza describes the attractiveness of Burn`s lass. When the poet says “As fair though, my bonnie lass”, he implies that the lady was very elegant and beautiful. Bonnie is a French word meaning good looking. Lass is another word for girl. Burns further shows his everlasting love for the beautiful lass in the third and fourth line of the second stanza when he uses the words “till a` the seas gang dry” (Burns, 1794).  There is no possibility of the seas drying up, so is Burns love for the young lady. The poet shortens the words of the poem in form of a hyperbole, to create a structure of a poem with the similar length of lines. The word a` means all in Scottish English, and it is common even in modern poetry. The word gang is a connotation that takes the close pronunciation of the word going. Therefore, in the poem, it implies going or walking. There is rhyming of the words thou and thee in the first and third line of the second stanza.

            In the third stanza, the poet uses the repetition technique to create emphasis. The first line is a repetition of the fourth line in the second stanza (Burns, 1794). Further highlighting of Burns affection for the lady can be seen when he says he will love her till the rocks melt with the sun. Burns expresses an everlasting love for the lass. Hyperbole shortening of words in the first and second line of the third stanza is done to structure the lines to fit with the length of other lines of the poem. Till is a short form of until, and wi` is a short form for with. Repetition is done again on the third line which is a repeat of the third line of the second stanza, again to create emphasis (Bainton and Burns 2011, p.3). Rhyming of hyperboles is also identified in the second and fourth line when Burn uses wi` and o` in the middle of both lines.

The final stanza shows a change of the poem`s context, where the poet has to leave his beloved lady for a while due to reasons that are not clear to the reader. The fourth stanza, however, explains why Burns used much emphasize in expressing his love for the beautiful lass. His words are an implication that he will miss the lady very much when they are apart, and that he will still love her despite this situation. When the poet says that he will travel “ten thousand miles” he tries to show a long distance apart between him and the lady (Burns, 1794). Burns uses a shortened hyperbole in the last line of the poem. Thou` is a shortened word for though. The word weel is frequently used in the last stanza as a connotation for well. Repetition appears again in the first and second line to show emphasis. The line “And fare thee weel a while” is Burns way of assuring his lover that he will be gone for a certain period of time, but they will meet again in the end.

In conclusion, the analysis of the poem clearly shows Burn`s love and affection. Description of the "bonnie lass"is done to highlight the aspects of the lady that make the poet more attracted to her. Most stanzas show an emphasis of love through poetic techniques of repetition, metaphors for comparison, a tone to express his loving attitude towards the lady, and various love symbols among other evidence shown in the essay.


Bainton, E., &Burns, R. (20111).  A Red Red Rose: Poem by Robert Burns; music by Edgar L. London, Chappell

Burns, R. (1794). A Red Red Rose Poem.

November 24, 2023

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