The-Red-Red-Rose-Summary-and-Analysis-Grade-11-English-Section-II-Literature-Unit-2-Poems
Grade 11: English_Section II: Literature

Unit 2 Poems

Lesson 2. A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie Burns, The National Bard, Bard of Ayrshire, the Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet who was born in 1759, in Alloway, Scotland, to William and Agnes Brown Burnes. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. Like his father, Burns was a tenant farmer. However, toward the end of his life he became an excise collector in Dumfries, where he died in 1796; throughout his life he was also a practicing poet. His poetry recorded and celebrated aspects of farm life, regional experience, traditional culture, class culture and distinctions, and religious practice.

"A Red, Red Rose" is a 1794 song in Scots by Robert Burns based on traditional sources. The song is also referred to by the title "Oh, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose", "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose" or "Red, Red Rose" and is often published as a poem.

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Curriculum of Grade 11-XI | Compulsory English | Subject Code:003 | 2076 | PDF DOWNLOAD. alert-success

Also Check:

Oh, My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose | Question Answers | Summary | Word Meanings.

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A Red, Red Rose_Summary and Analysis

The speaker describes his or her love—meaning either the person, the speaker loves or the speaker's feelings of love for that person—as being as beautiful, vivid, and fresh as a flower that has just recently bloomed. This love is as sweet as a beautiful song played by a skilled musician.

The beloved is so beautiful that the speaker loves her with a deep and strong passion—so strong, in fact, that the speaker's love will last until the oceans have become dry.

Even after the seas have evaporated and the earth has decayed, the speaker will still love the beloved. This love will endure until their own lives have ended and even until all human life has ended.

The speaker concludes by saying goodbye to the beloved—who is, the speaker reminds her, the only person the speaker loves. The speaker wishes her well during their temporary separation. The speaker reaffirms his or her faithful love by promising to return even if the journey covers a very long distance and takes a very long time.

“A Red, Red Rose” Themes_Love and Change.

“A Red, Red Rose” begins by describing the speaker’s love for a beloved with images that are beautiful but not necessarily long-lasting. The speaker then affirms, however, that his or her love will outlast human life itself. Through the speaker’s paradoxical (but passionate) claims, the poem argues that true love is both constantly renewing and completely unchangeable.

The speaker begins by describing love in terms that are beautiful but that don’t immediately suggest permanence. The first lines compare the speaker’s love to “a red, red rose.” “Love” could refer to the beloved, the person the speaker loves. It could also refer to the speaker’s feelings for this person. Saying the beloved is like a rose “newly sprung in June” emphasizes her beauty and youth. Meanwhile, saying that the speaker’s love for her is like a new rose implies that this is a new relationship, with all the freshness and excitement of a developing romance. Of course, a rose can only be “newly sprung” for a short time; June ends after thirty days, and flowers fade quickly. If the speaker’s love is just like a new rose, maybe it won’t last very long.

The speaker then says this love is like “a melody / That’s sweetly played in tune.” But again, instruments can go out of tune, just as flowers can fade. The newness and excitement of the speaker’s love initially make it seem somewhat unstable.

Then, however, the speaker goes on to emphasize how long this love will last. The speaker uses three images to measure how long these feelings of love will last: the seas going dry, the rocks melting, and the sands of life running out. These events could only occur after millions of year, if ever. It seems now that the speaker’s love, far from lasting only as long as a flower, will actually endure longer than human life. Although these conflicting descriptions of the speaker’s love sound like a paradox, the speaker continues to insist that true love really can embody these seemingly opposite qualities of newness and permanence.

In the final stanza, the speaker bids farewell to the beloved, as if the speaker is planning to leave on a journey. The beloved doesn’t need to worry, though, because the speaker promises to return, even if the journey is “ten thousand mile[s]” long. This promise implies that, just as long stretches of time could not exhaust the speaker’s love for the beloved, a long stretch of distance cannot keep the speaker from her. And the length of this journey now seems short—just “awhile”—compared to the near-infinite time the speaker’s love will last. It seems, then, that love like the speaker’s is powerful enough to make earthly obstacles (like physical distance) feel insignificant. That is, this love is reliable and constant, but it also feels fresh and exciting enough to adapt; to change circumstances. The moment of farewell in the final stanza highlights the speaker’s core argument: love that lasts forever is also love that allows for change over time.

Beauty, Youth, and Aging.

“A Red, Red Rose” initially suggests that the speaker’s love is generated by the beloved’s youth and beauty—qualities that fade with time. The speaker then affirms, however, that these temporary qualities actually give rise to feelings that persist eternally, through aging and even through death. The poem seems to argue that beauty and youth are so powerful that they can inspire feelings that last long after these qualities themselves are gone.

The speaker begins with an image of the beloved that emphasizes her youth and beauty, suggesting a love that is enthusiastic but likely to fade with time. The speaker tells the reader that this love “like a red, red rose.” Roses are most beautiful when “newly sprung”—but this is a beauty that, by definition, cannot last. Newness ends quickly, and all flowers eventually fade—they cannot be “red, red” forever. If “my Love” refers to the beloved, then comparing her to a rose acknowledges that she is beautiful now but that her beauty will fade over time. Or, if “my Love” refers to the speaker’s feelings for her, then it seems that the speaker’s feelings may also fade over time.

As the poem continues, however, the speaker suggests that the impermanent qualities of youth and beauty give rise to a love that is permanent. The speaker’s love will remain constant even through aging, decay, and death. In the second stanza, the speaker affirms the beloved’s beauty—“So fair art thou”—and the speaker’s strong love for her—“So deep in love am I.” The parallel phrases starting with "So" suggest a causal connection between the two ideas. It is because she is so beautiful, as beautiful as a rose, that the speaker’s feelings for her are so strong. They are so strong, in fact that they will last longer than any rose. Somewhat counterintuitively, the poem claims that the speaker’s love will actually outlast the rose-like beauty that initially inspired it.

To indicate how long he or she will love the beloved, the speaker uses three images: the sea going dry, the rocks melting with the sun, and the sands of life running out. These images represent great lengths of time (it would take an eternity for these events to happen) and, crucially, also describe processes of decay. They show the natural world losing its vitality and form, in much the same way as an individual flower would. Through these images, the speaker is indirectly confronting the reality of aging and death—not just in the natural world, but also in the lives of this couple. The speaker implies that he or she will continue to love the beloved even as she ages and her beauty decays. That is, her beautiful appearance may have first inspired their love, but their love will endure even when her beauty is gone. It will last, in fact, until the sands of their lives have run out and they draw close to death.

When the speaker promises to return after a long journey, knowing the beloved will have aged in that time, the speaker reaffirms that his or her feelings will remain the same even though the beloved may grow less beautiful. The speaker concludes by bidding farewell to the beloved and promising to return to her, even if the journey is “ten thousand mile[s]” long. The beloved will likely be older, less youthful, and perhaps less beautiful by the time the speaker returns. Nevertheless, the speaker does promise to return, indicating that although the beloved may change, the speaker’s feelings will remain constant. Through the final promise, the poem indicates again that the love, youthful beauty inspires, need not end when youth itself ends.

“A Red, Red Rose” Symbols_Rose.

The rose is a traditional symbol of romantic love, especially when its color is red. Here, the rose symbolizes the love between the speaker and the beloved. This traditional symbolism dates back to ancient Greek literature, which associated the rose with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. In one ancient myth, roses became red when Aphrodite wounded herself and stained the rose's petals with her blood.

As a flower, however, roses also symbolize transience and impermanence. In particular, several famous verses of the Bible use flowers to symbolize the shortness of human life. Examples include Psalm 103:15-16 ("As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more") and Matthew 6:28-30 ("Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow [...] And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.") In passages like these, flowers are beautiful when new, but they soon age and their beauty quickly fades.

In this poem, the speaker uses the rose's beauty as an image of the beloved and uses the rose's rapid decay as a contrast to his or her eternal feelings for the beloved. Although the beloved is as beautiful as a rose, the speaker will love the beloved even as she ages, and their love will ultimately last far longer than the short lifespan of a rose.

“A Red, Red Rose” Poetic Devices & Figurative Language_Simile.

The poem's first four lines are composed of two similes, both of which are structured in the same way. In lines 1 and 3, the speaker says his or her love is like a particular thing (first a "rose," then a "melody"); in lines 2 and 4, the speaker adds a descriptive phrase to give the reader a more detailed, vivid picture of that thing (i.e., that the rose is "newly sprung" and the melody is "sweetly played in tune").

These two similes suggest that the speaker's experience of love is too rich and complex to be communicated fully. The speaker can only say what his or her love is like. And even then, one image alone is not enough. The speaker must use multiple images to capture the multiple facets of this love.

But while the experience is complex, it is not beyond the reader's power to understand and imagine. The images used in the similes—a red rose, a sweet song—are universally associated with love. By using these common images, the speaker suggests that his or her love, while sincere and intense, is not wholly unusual. It is has something in common with all human experiences of love. With these similes, the speaker may be inviting readers to draw upon their own experiences of love in order to imagine what the speaker is feeling right now.

Analysis of the Poem_ A Red, Red Rose

  • Popularity of “A Red, Red Rose”: Robert Burns, a famous Scottish poet, and lyricist wrote this poem. It is one of the most popular love poems and was first published in 1794. The poem explores the phenomenon of love. It comprises the narrator’s attempt to express the depth of his love. Since its publication, it has gained a lot of popularity across the globe.

  • “A Red, Red Rose” As a Representative of Love: The poet, very artistically draws a picture of his profound love. He paints this picture with intense emotions. The speaker compares his beloved with “a red rose” and “sweet melody” to intensify his deep feelings for her. He addresses her, proclaiming that his love will stay still until the seas dry up and the rocks melt with the sun because his beloved is so adorable. For some reasons, he has to go far away from her, but he promises to return even if he has to travel thousands of miles to win her back. What enchants the reader is the metaphorical representation of love through natural phenomena the sea and the sun.

  • Major themes in “A Red, Red Rose”: Love and separation are the major themes given in the poem. The poet has layered them with using metaphors of natural objects. The poem is primarily concerned with the speaker’s love for his significant other. He adores her beauty and expresses his immeasurable love for her. His love is so deep-rooted that it will stay forever no matter what happens.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “A Red, Red Rose”.

Literary devices are tools that enable the writers to present their ideas, emotions, and feelings and also help the readers understand those more profound meanings. Robert Burns has also used some literary elements in this poem to show the beauty of the beloved and the intensity of his love. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  • Simile: Simile is a device used to compare an object or a person with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. There are two similes used in this poem. The first is used in the first line, “O my Love is like a red, red rose” Here, the poet compares his beloved with a red rose. The second is used in the third line, “O my Love is like the melody”, and the poet compares his love with sweet melody.

  • Symbolism: Symbolism means to use symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal meanings. Robert has used “rose” as a symbol of love.

  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sounds of /l/ and /r/ in “O my Love is like a red, red rose”.

  • Imagery: Imagery is a distinct representation of something that can be experienced or understood through five senses. Robert has used visual imagery in the poem such as, “O my Love is like a red, red rose”,” And the rocks melt wi’ the sun” and “While the sands o’ life shall run”.

  • Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. The poet has used hyperbole in the last line of the second stanza, “Till a’ the seas gang dry.” He says that his love will flow even when the seas dry up. The second is used in the third stanza, “And the rocks melt wi’ the sun.”

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “I will love thee still, my dear”.

The literary analysis shows that with the help of these literary devices the poet has sketched a very vivid and realistic picture of his profound love.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “A Red, Red Rose”.

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem; each consists of four lines.

  • Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here, each stanza is quatrain as the first one and the second one.

  • Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues throughout the poem.

  • Refrain: The lines that are repeated again at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The line, “And I will love thee still, my dear” has become a refrain, as it has been repeated in second and the third stanzas.

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