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“A Red, Red Rose”: Critical Detailed Analysis And Summary


Robert Burns composed “A Red, Red Rose” which is a Scots ballad, in 1794, based on folklore. This ballad is often referred to as a song, and has also been published as a poem under the title “Oh my love is Like a Red, Red Rose”. Burns’ poem has been adapted to music by a variety of musicians, but “Low Down in the Broom” which is considered a traditional melody, is also made famous worldwide.

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns


Robert Burns’s poem “A Red, Red Rose” has a ballad structure that is consisting of four-line stanzas with a loose ABAB rhyme scheme which automatically connects the reader to ideas of love and emotion.

The narrator makes an effort to convey the depth of his “love” throughout the lines by using metaphors and similes to depict his devotion and the woman for whom he has it. Since the final verse indicates that he must leave her for a while”, this might be his last chance to reassure his “loved”, but despite the motivation, the focus of the poem is still on the word “love” itself.

Evert Taube also provided a Swedish translation of the poem, which was later set to music and made popular. It seems that many poems are songs that are frequently adapted from Burns’ poetry.


The speaker compares his or her love- or may be considering the sentiments of love attached to him for that person and compares it to a newly blooming flower, saying that it is as lovely, colourful and new.
This love is as tender as a lovely song performed by a talented musician.

The speaker has a deep and intense passion for the beloved because she is so stunning.

In fact, the speaker’s love for the beloved is so intense that it will endure until the oceans have dried up.

The speaker will love his beloved even after the sea vanishes and the earth deteriorates. Their love is so strong that it will sustain itself over the end of their own lives as well as the lives of the human race.

The speaker assures her that she is the only person she loves before bidding farewell to the beloved.

The speaker gives her reassurance and wishes her all luck while they become apart for a while.

By vowing to return even if the voyage is very long and very far away, the speaker reinforces his or her steadfast love.


Stanza 1

“O my Luve is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune. “

 Without a doubt, the poem’s main purpose is for the narrator to communicate his love for his so-called “Luve”, which is expressed in this first verse. Given that the word “Luve” is capitalized, the title has more weight than it would with a lowercase notion as if it were a legitimate name for the subject.

It is not necessary for the reader to know this woman’s name. The narrator is able to identify this person only by knowing her nickname.

Additionally, the way the term “Luve” is spelt is less contemporary, which places this idea in a more antiquated time. Since the spelling evokes notions of chivalry and rules of traditional courtship, this tactic increases the amount of romance present in the circumstance.

Because of that, even if this poem had been written today, the language would reach back into those earlier eras to revive archaic but beloved ideals of love and romance.

The narrator claims that his “Luve” is “like a red, red rose” in his description of her. This is a powerful comparison because the flower is mostly associated with romance is the “rose”.

Additionally, as “red” is seen as a colour of passion, ascribing it to the “rose” twice in a succession adds a significant degree of emotion to the romance- enough so that the colour must be repeated.

Stanza 2

“So 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.”

In the second stanza of the poem, the narrator takes a step back from discussing his thoughts and deeds to praise his “bonnie lass” for being “so pretty”. The narrator then explicitly states that he is “so deep in luve” after the compliment has been inscribed in stone.

It is interesting to observe that “luve” is no longer capitalized in this situation, possibly because he is using it as a verb but not as a noun to refer to the woman he cares about. That distinction can suggest that the woman is more important than the act of “luve” as if she is the sole reason he is able to feel such a vast range of emotions.

The “luve” would be less substantial for anyone else, therefore.

The narrator continues by saying he “will luve [her] still [till] a’ the waters gang dry. “ This is a smart way of conveying that his love for her will endure forever, and it does not matter how deep and intense the declaration is. This might be the case since his “luve” is as “deep” as “the seas”, and just as he is assured that it won’t end, neither will it end their relationship.

Finally, it’s important to note that the narrator introduces the word “dear” as a new term of endearment for his “Luve” in this verse. However, this term is still written in lowercase, possibly because it isn’t a strong enough noun to adequately express his love for this particular woman.

To adequately address it, it must be “Luve” and only after it has been sufficiently addressed merits capitalization. Otherwise, any expression of endearment will be inadequate and should be written in lowercase.

Stanza 3

“Till a the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;

I will love thee still, my dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.”

In the third verse, the narrator adds the repeated term “my beloved” to the idea that he “shall luve” her “till a’ the seas gang dry”. This illustrates how passionate the narrator is about this idea and how determined he is to make sure that his loved one is aware of how long his love may last.

Spending so much time on a single theme emphasizes how relevant and significant it is to the narrator because repetition severely restricts the ideas that may be addressed in a poem with only sixteen lines.

The narrator then continues to make predictions about how long his “luve” will last, mentioning in particular “rocks melting” with the sun” and “the sands o’ life…running”, which means that he “will love” this woman as long as the world stays intact and as long as “the sands of life” permit him to live.

It is interesting to note that in this verse, the word “luve” is now spelt as “love”, which is more contemporary. This alone may be a symbol of his affection’s broad reach because it spans the past first, then the present, and lastly the future. Overall, the narrator wishes to portray the depth of his “love”, and the language does a wonderful job of accomplishing that.

Stanza 4

“And fare thee weel, my only luve!

And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my luve,

Though it were ten thousand miles.”

The fourth stanza of “A Red, Red Rose” makes it clear that the narrator must be leaving his “luve”, even though the poem lacks any validated explanation. The world’s wording changed back to its more traditional form, but this verse also uses lowercase letters to refer to his love.

This can mean that in order to leave, his “luve” must be put on hold, and that lower degree of importance is highlighted by the use of lowercase. Despite the fact that they are separated by a “ten thousand mile”, the narrator never leaves without telling his “luve” that he “will come again”.

The fact that the words “ten thousand” and “mile” are used together suggests that it is irrelevant how far apart they are from one another.

The narrator is confident he will eventually return to his “luve”, whether it takes him several “mile[s]” or just one. That conclusion, along with the repeated utterance of “fare thee weel”, is yet another indicator of how deeply his “love” flows.

Since so much of “A Red, Red Rose” is then encapsulated in just a few words, it is a significant choice to repeat ideas in such a condensed poem, as was already mentioned. His counsel or request for her to stay healthy in his leaving words shows how much he wants her to “fare…well”.

This demonstrates a degree of concern greater than what he feels while her physically close by.

The intensity of the narrator’s affections, not the fact that the “luve” must be set aside for “awhile” is what makes this poem stand out.


Power of Love

In the first lines of “A Red, Red Rose,” the speaker expresses his or her affection for a beloved through pictures that are both lovely and fleeting. But the speaker goes on to say that love will outlive even human life. The poem makes the argument that real love is both continuously renewing and immutable through the speaker’s paradoxical (but fervent) declarations.

The poet begins by using beautiful language to describe love which lacks impermanence.

The speaker compares their love to “a crimson, red rose.” The term “luve” can also be used to describe the speaker’s adored. It might also allude to the speaker’s affection for this individual. The phrase “newly sprung in June,” which compares the lover to a rose, highlights her charm and youth.

The speaker’s passion for her is similar to a new rose, on the other hand, alluding to the fact that this can be a nascent engagement, with all the novelty and exhilaration of a blossoming passion.

The speaker bids the lover farewell in the penultimate stanza, as though the speaker were about to embark on a journey. However, the speaker assures the lover that he will come back, regardless of the distance travelled which is “ten thousand mile[s]”.

This declaration indicates that, just as extended periods couldn’t dim the speaker’s affection for the beloved, an extended period of separation couldn’t keep him from her. And in comparison to the seemingly endless amount of time the speaker’s love will last, the duration of this voyage now looks brief—just “a while.”

The speaker’s love seems to be strong enough to overcome challenges on earth (such as physical distance), it seems.

Power of Time over youth, Beauty, and Charm

The initial interpretation of “A Red, Red Rose” implies that the speaker’s love is motivated by the beloved’s beauty and youth, these qualities that deteriorate with time. The speaker affirms that these qualities lead to a rise in emotion that is long-lasting even throughout the death.

The poem seems to dawn with the realization that youth and beauty are so potent that they don’t fail to arouse long-standing emotions.

The speaker introduces the lover with a picture highlighting her beauty and youth and implying a passionate love that may wane over time. The love is analogous to a blooming red rose when they have just “newly sprung” and have their beauty fleeting by nature.

The flowers eventually fade because they fail to hold their novelty forever. If “my Luve” is referring to a beloved, then likening her to a rose admits that while she is beautiful today, her beauty will deteriorate with time. Alternatively, if “my Luve” alludes to the speaker’s affections for her, it would appear that those feelings would likewise dwindle with time.

But as the poem progresses, the speaker claims that youth and beauty despite being transient can give rise to eternal love. Even in the face of ageing, deterioration, and death, the speaker’s love will not change. The speaker emphasizes the beloved’s attractiveness in the second verse with lines “So lovely are thou” and “So deep in luve am I”.

The speaker’s affections for her are so strong as she is gorgeous and lovely like a rose. The poem asserts counter-intuitively, that the speaker’s love will endure longer than the rose-like beauty that served as its first inspiration.

The speaker asserts that his or her sentiments will remain intact even if the beloved may lose some of her beauty with age, and the speaker makes a long-distance pledge to return, knowing the beloved will have aged during that time. The poem ends by saying goodbye to the beloved and making a promise to find her again, even if the trip is “ten thousand miles” long.

By the time the speaker returns, the lover shall probably get older, less young, and possibly less attractive. Even so, the speaker makes a commitment to return, demonstrating that even if the beloved changes, the speaker’s affection towards her will not.

The poem makes the penultimate promise that the love of youthful beauty does not need to end with youth itself.


This poem explores the bond between man and nature, the enduring nature of love, and the potency of human emotions. The speaker of the poem begins by comparing his beloved to “A Red, Red Rose”. The poet draws a comparison of his love to that of a fresh, young red rose that has just bloomed in the spring.

He makes the analogy between his love and a tenderly performed song. He says of his lady love, “So deep in luve am I”, that his lady love is a fair art and beautiful. He will adore her till the waters have dried up and the sun melts the rocks. This love will last as long as he lives and till the end of the planet. He promises to return later on but bids goodbye for the moment.

Literary Devices

The depth of his love and beauty of the lady was described by Robert Burns using some of the same techniques. Alliteration, assonance, symbolism, imagery, and simile are some of the more prevalent literary strategies.


To clarify the meanings, an object or person is compared with something else. In a simile, the comparison term “like” is employed. In this poetry, the poet employs two similes.

The poem’s opening line contains the first simile. “My love is as red as a crimson rose” In this passage, he likens his sweetheart to a crimson rose. “O my love is like the song” is the second simile. He likens her to a lovely tune in this sentence.


Symbols have been heavily used in this poem to express concepts that are in contrast to their literal meanings, symbolism provides a symbolic meaning. For instance, the use of “red rose” is used as symbolic of passion and love. The rose represents the speaker and his loved one in this passage.


Imagery is the representation that can be realized by the five senses. In this poem, the poet employed three images. They are “And the rocks melt with the sun” “O my love is like a crimson, red rose” and “While the sands of life shall run.”


Consonant sounds are repeated in the same line. The following sentence uses alliteration: “O my love is like a crimson red rose.” Here, the sounds /I/ and /r/ are repeated in the words “love” and “like” as well as “red red rose”.


Assonance is the repetition used in the vowel sounds in the same line. Assonance was found in the line of the poem, “I will love thee still, my sweet”. Will and yet in this sentence both repeat the /i/ sound.


What is the purpose of the poem ‘A Red, Red Rose’ by Robert Burns?

The poem is intended to be sung out loud and has the structure of a ballad. It expresses the speaker’s intense love for his or her partner and makes the guarantee that his love will endure forever.

What kind of poem is ‘A Red, Red Rose’ by Robert Burns?

The ballad structure of the poem “A Red, Red Rose” will consist of four-line stanzas with a loose ABAB rhyme scheme which allows the reader to connect to the ideas of love and emotion.

Who is the poet addressing in the poem ‘A Red, Red Rose’?

The poet addresses his love in the poem “A Red, Red Rose”. Robert Burns is the author of the poetry you just read. The poet’s eternal love for his sweetheart serves as the poem’s main theme.

What kind of love is expressed in ‘A red, red rose’?

Robert Burns’s poem “A Red, Red Rose” has been written to express his passionate romantic love for her beloved. He likened his beloved to a fresh, lovely July rose as well as to a charming song.

What does the poet compare his love to?

While expressing his deepest emotions, the speaker uses a loving and joyful tone. The speaker of the poem begins by using a simile to illustrate the favourable implications of love. He makes the all-too-common romantic love by comparing his beloved to a “red rose”.

What is the tone of the poem ‘A Red, Red Rose’?

The tone is adoring and joyful as the speaker expresses his sentiments with intensity. The speaker employs a simile to communicate the favourable associations of love. He likens her to a “red rose” which is a common allegory for romantic love.

What does the speaker promise in ‘A Red, Red Rose’?

The speaker promises to remain in love with his beloved until the sun melts the rocks and he is still breathing.

What kind of feeling does the poem create?

Robert Burns’s poem “The Red, Red Rose” evoked a mystical, solitary and unsettling atmosphere in this poem.