“My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns, Scottish (1759-1796)
Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet, was educated by his father, an Ayrshire farmer. Although Burns was not fond of farming, it was his closeness to nature that enabled him to depict the hardships of Scottish rural life and the beauty of the landscape in his poems. Two such poems are “To a Mouse” and “To a Mountain Daisy.” His approach was opposite to that of the English Romantic poets who depicted rustic life as idyllic. I love Burns’ use of the Scottish dialect, the freshness of simple, everyday language. There is nothing abstract or ambiguous in his poetry.
Burns had a great sense of humor. Although he gained widespread admiration for poems such as “Holy Willy’s Prayer,” the Scottish clergy deemed them blasphemous. Here is one verse from this poem–and it is the least offensive!
“O Lord! Yestreen, thou knows, wi’ Meg,
Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
O! may’t ne’er be a livin plague
To my dishonor,
An’ I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.”
Robert Burns published his poems in 1786, ten years before he died of rheumatic fever.
“My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose”
In this poem, Burns addresses his Luve with all the longings and passion of a young lover who has to leave his “Bonny Lass.” In the first verse, Burns tells us his Luve is like a sweet melody and a newly-sprung, red rose. Burns implies she is young, a rose bud–a maiden. And, of course, the image of a red rose represents true love. In the next three stanzas, Burns addresses his Luve directly, telling her that nothing will come between them, and he will love her until he dies, promising to return to her, no matter the distance.
I love this poem. When I first learned it at school, I knew nothing about true love–the longing, despair, the unpredictability and uncertainty of it all. As a child, I felt the poet’s intensity. I was terribly sad the lovers had to part and even more upset when my English teacher, Mrs. O’ Shea, said the Lover might never return. What then? Well, then ensued a homework assignment where I had to write a love poem, which was a pale imitation of Robert Burns’ little masterpiece.
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Sarah M. Fredericks © 2015
Carpe Librum!📚Seize the Book…and let the page-turning begin!