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Robert Burns (1759- 96) was the eldest son of an unsuccessful tenant farmer in Ayrshire. Growing up to a life of demanding physical work, poverty and awareness of social disadvantage, he began to write poetry in an attempt to find ‘some kind of counterpoise’ to these harsh realities. By his mid twenties, he was an accomplished poet and song-writer, especially in his native Scots. In the summer of 1786, when he was on the point of giving up farming in Scotland and emigrating to the West Indies essentially because of a broken love affair with a local girls, Burns published his first collection of poems, printed in the country town of Kilmarnock. Poems, Chiefly In the Scottish Dialect met with such acclaim in Ayrshire and among West of Scotland people in Edinburgh that he changed all his plans, and travelled to the capital, where he was welcomed by a number of leading literary figures.

Among those who saluted the new arrival was Henry Mackenzie, whose sentimental novel The Man of Feeling Burns intensely admired. Mackenzie praised the ‘power of genius’ of ‘this Heaven-taught plowman’ in an influential essay in his periodical The Lounger, and helped Burns arrange publication of an expanded edition of his Poems in the spring of 1787.

When Burns received part of the money which the new edition earned for him, he made a number of tours, to the Borders and to the Highlands. Burn’s literary work in the remaining years of his life consists of many outstanding songs, and the poem ‘Tam O’ Shanter’.


“A Red, Red Rose” is a poem written by Robert Burns. It was first published in 1794 in a collection of traditional Scottish songs set to music. This 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”. Everything in this world goes around love. Love, which takes nothing more than a two pure heart. This poem is written by a man who knew impulsively how to prevail a woman’s heart. It describes the poet’s deep love for his beloved and promises of their constant love. He is passionate about love and inspiring others to get bind into true love.


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.

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.

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.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!

And fare thee weel awhile!

And I will come again, my luve,

Though it were ten thousand mile.


The poem opens with the speaker comparing his love to “A Red, Red Rose”. The poet says that his love is like a newly blossomed red rose in spring which is fresh and young. He compares his love with a sweetly played melody song. He describes his Lady love as fair art and a beautiful lady with whom he is in deep love “So deep in luve am I”. He will love her till the oceans become dry, till the rocks get melted with sun. This love will endure as long as he is alive and until the world ends. He bids farewell by saying goodbye to his beloved for a while and assures her that he will be back again. Even though they were apart from ten thousand miles distance, he will return to her.

(Bonnie lass – term was often used in old poems by poets of past generations to denote beautiful lady or a girl)


The rose is a key symbol of this poem. Roses come in a rainbow of colors. Different colours of roses have different symbolic significances. The colour red is associated with true love. In western cultures, roses have often found space in literature, artwork, and poetry. Shakespeare had termed rose as an eternal beauty and that A rose by any other name would smell as sweet! Robert Burns went on to compare the love of his life to a red rose. In ancient Roman and Greek iconography, red roses were linked with Venus, the Goddess of love.



Arena Flowers

Robert Burns 1759-1796 by Donald A Low

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