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Themes

"A Red, Red Rose" is one of the most famous love poems in the English language, and it's pretty clear why—the entire poem is an expression of the speaker's powerful, undying love. Line after line, he lets us know his love is lasting, for real, and awesomely awesome. So awesome, in fact, that he would even walk ten thousand miles to see his bonnie lass again.

Questions About Love

  1. Why in the world does Burns spell the world love, luve? What's the effect of that change on your reading of the poem?
  2. What does the speaker really mean when he says his love is like a red, red rose? Think about it: what does that comparison actually signify?
  3. If the speaker loves this woman so much, why's he leaving? Does it make you doubt his love at all?
  4. Be honest: would you ever write this poem in a card to your boyfriend or girlfriend?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Um, hello? Roses have thorns. Sure, it's nice and pretty, but it stings, too, and our speaker shouldn't forget that.

We might believe that love can last forever, but by comparing his love to a flower the speaker suggests that it, like the flower, may die someday.

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