• Annotated Full Text
  • Publication Date: 1794
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 4
Poetry

A Red, Red Rose

Robert Burns’s 1794 poem “A Red, Red Rose” is on its face a simple love poem of a speaker's declaring eternal commitment to his lover. Some readers take it as just that: a “melody / that’s sweetly play’d in tune,” a well-wrought love poem whose elegance lies in its simplicity. Others, however, find irony in the speaker’s simple-sounding declarations of endless commitment to his beloved. Instead, they believe he’s really suggesting that such feelings cannot last forever. Like Burns’s most famous composition, “Auld Lang Syne,” “A Red, Red Rose” was originally written to be sung to musical accompaniment; in fact, Burns composed it by rewriting and combining lines from older song and ballads. Whether taken as an idealistic love poem or a darker lament about the impossibility of making love last, “A Red, Red Rose” continues to engage readers to this day.

  • Annotated Full Text
  • Publication Date: 1794
  • Flesch-Kincaid Level: 4