A Red, Red Rose
The poem “A Red, Red Rose” was composed by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. This is one of the most popular love poems. First published in 1794 this poem explores the phenomenon of love. It constitutes a narrator attempt to express the depth of his love. Since its publication, it has gained a lot of popularity all over the world.
“A Red, Red Rose” as a representative of love – the poet painted a very artistic picture of his deep love. He did this with his intense emotions to reinforce his deep feelings for her. But he promises to return even if he has to travel thousands of miles to win her back. What enchants readers are metaphorical representations of love through natural phenomena of the sea and sun.
The major themes given in the poem are love and separation. They were demonstrated by the poet through the use of natural object metaphors. The poem is concerned mainly with the affection of the speaker for his significant other. He adores her beauty and shares his unconditional and profound love for her. His love is so deep-rooted that, no matter what happens, it will remain forever.
The “A Red, Red Rose” poem is about the speaker’s lovable feelings for his beautiful beloved. So strong is the speaker’s passion for his beloved. He compares his beloved to June’s fresh red rose and the sweet melody of a tune. His beloved is as exquisite as the red rose and the soft tuned melody. He wants to love his beloved forever, which is why he makes different promises. He wants to be and love her with her until the gang of earthly seas go dry, rocks melt, and human life ends. After a short break, he wants to be with her regardless of whether the ride is ten thousand miles long or long. The speaker devotes his life to his loved one, who is pretty stunning.
- We find the speaker in the very first stanza comparing his beloved with lovable things. Here, the love feelings of the speaker for his beloved are so strong.
- The speaker compares the stunning, fresh and delicate red rose of June to his beloved one. Next, the speaker contrasts his beloved with a sweet melody that is played in tune with sweetness.
- The speaker praises her beauty in the second stanza and also makes very lovable pledges linked to his love for her. He is in deep love with her, according to the speaker, because she is very beautiful. He adds that he’s going to love her until the entire sea on this planet dry.
- Even in the third stanza, the speaker’s vow keeps going. He vows to love his beloved until the rocks of this world are melted by the rays of the sun. Until the end of human life, he would love her.
- In the fourth stanza, during their temporary separation, the speaker wants his beloved to have a decent life and a promising future. He makes her say goodbye. We find the speaker promising his love to return in the final two lines, even though the journey is too long (ten thousand miles) and takes a very long
Answer the following questions.
- To which two things does the speaker compare his love in the first stanza?
=Two things the speaker compares his love in the first stanza are red rose and melody (music).
- What does the speaker promise in the second and third stanzas?
=In the second and third stanzas, the speaker promises that he will love his beloved until the seas become dry, the rocks melt in the sun and he is alive.
- What imagery does he use in his promise, and why do you think he uses such language?
=In his promise, he uses hyperbolic imagery. He uses such language to express the intensity of his love for his beloved.
- In the last stanza, what event is about to happen by mentioning the number of miles?
=The speaker and his beloved are going to separate.
- Which image in the poem do you find the most memorable or surprising and why?
=The image of dry seas and melted rocks is the most memorable or surprising because this exaggeration makes us realize the speaker’s devotion to his his beloved and eternity of his love for her.
Reference to the context
- What can you infer about the speaker’s devotion to his beloved from the following lines?
And I will come again, my love,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!
The given lines express the speaker’s profound love for his beloved. The speaker says farewell to her, and at the same time promises that he returns to her even if he has to cover a distance of 10 thousand miles. This promise shows that no obstacles can separate the speaker from her. It seems that the speaker’s powerful love for his beloved makes any earthly hardship insignificant.
- What is the theme of the poem?
The poem has the themes of love and passion. The poem is basically concerned with the speaker’s deep love for his beloved. He praises her beauty and expresses his inestimable love for her. His love will remain forever no matter what happens. He bids goodbye to her before they separate, and promises he will come to her even covering the distance of ten thousand miles.
- Paraphrase the whole poem into simple prose form.
My beloved, you are like a red rose which newly blooms in summer, and sweet melody played in tune. You are very fair and beautiful. I am deeply fall in love with you. I will love you till the seas go dry, the rocks melt with the heat of the sun, and I am alive. Now, I bid farewell to you, but I promise I will return even if I have to travel ten thousand miles.
- Analyse the poem in terms of the literary devices such as simile, symbolism, imagery, alliteration, and assonance.
The poet employs several literary devices to show the beauty of his beloved and the power of his love. They are simile, symbolism, imagery, alliteration, and assonance.
The first literary tool used in the poem is simile. It is an expression which describes one thing comparing it with another, using words as or like. The poem begins with two similes. They are used when the speaker compares his beloved with a red rose and sweet melody.
Symbolism is another figure of speech, used in the poem. The rose is a traditional symbol of love. In the poem, the rose symbolizes love between the speaker and his beloved. This symbolism dates back to ancient Greek literature, which associates the rose with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
In the poem, imagery is created with simile and hyperbole. There is a visual picture of a red rose in our mind when the speaker compares his beloved with a red rose. When he equates her to the sweet melody, auditory imagery is used. Comparisons of both the rose and the melody shows his beloved lovely, sweet, new, and young. To convey the intensity of his affection, he then switches to hyperbolic images, by expressing that he will love until the seas become dry and the rocks melt in the sun. We can view the world of dry seas and melted rocks in our mind.
The poet makes use of alliteration and assonance to emphasize his powerful feelings of love for his beloved.
Alliteration is found in the line ‘O, my love is like a red, red rose.’ It has the repetition of the consonant sounds /l/ and /r/. Assonance is a literary device in which the repetition of vowel sounds occurs in the same line. In the line ‘And I will love thee still, my dear’, the vowel sound /i/ is repeated.
- What is hyperbole? Explain its purpose citing examples of hyperbole used in the poem.
Hyperbole is a figure of speech used to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. This technique is used to emphasize how deeply he loves his beloved. The exaggeration happens in the lines ‘Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear’ and ‘And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!’. It is literally impossible to say that the seas dry up and the rocks melt in the sun. The poet uses the line to show the eternity of his love for his beloved.
- What is refrain? Why is it used in the poem? Explain citing an example from the poem.
A refrain is a phrase or line recurring at intervals in a poem or song, usually at the end of a stanza. The poet has used this device to establish meter of the poem, and indicate its romantic tone. As the line, ‘And I will love thee still, my dear,’ has been repeated in the second and the third stanzas, it has become a refrain. When this line recurs in the poem, it becomes noticeable to the readers.