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Themes in A Red, Red Rose

Love can last forever: As with much of “A Red, Red Rose,” the treatment of this theme depends on how earnest you think the speaker is being. If the speaker truly believes everything he is saying, then the poem is a strong argument in favor of the possibility of eternal love. On the other hand, if the speaker is being ironic, the poem is a profound argument against that possibility—one that actually makes a mockery of the sentimental language one might use to describe a so-called eternal commitment.

Themes Examples in A Red, Red Rose:

A Red, Red Rose

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"fare thee weel..."   (A Red, Red Rose)

In the Scottish dialect, “weel” means “well,” so this line means “fare thee well.” The speaker is saying goodbye to his beloved. If the poem is a genuine expression of love, then it seems the speaker has been forced to leave his beloved by some unnamed circumstances, and this “farewell” is a melancholy one. If the speaker has been disingenuous from the start, this last stanza is an announcement that, as predicted, the feeling of love has passed. Too ashamed to admit this, the speaker leaves by saying that he’ll return no matter what. But, with ten thousand miles of separation, really he won’t be back.

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