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Irony in A Red, Red Rose

Irony Examples in A Red, Red Rose:

A Red, Red Rose

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"And I will come again, my Luve,   Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!..."   (A Red, Red Rose)

“Tho’” here is an abbreviated form of “though.” The last two lines of the stanza mean: I will come back to you, even if there are ten thousand miles between us. As with many other passages of the poem, these lines can be read in one of two ways. Either the speaker’s hyperbolic declaration is an earnest, if overstated, profession of commitment, or it serves as an ironic skewering of sentimental expressions of devotion, using hyperbole to ridicule that poetic convention.

"Till a’ the seas gang dry...."   (A Red, Red Rose)

Hyperbole is a literary device in which something is exaggerated for emphasis or humor. Of course the speaker and his beloved will not literally live long enough to see the seas dry up. To readers who take the poem as a simple expression of love, the hyperbole here only emphasizes how committed he is to her. Others, who think the speaker is being more playful and ironic, will take this line as a sarcastic declaration of commitment to his beloved. These readers think that by making such an absurd exaggeration about how long he’ll love her, the speaker is in effect saying: This love will likely pass, even if it feels endless right now.

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