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A Red, Red Rose

A Red, Red Rose


by Robert Burns

A Red, Red Rose Theme of Man and the Natural World

Rocks, seas, sand, roses—there's plenty of nature in "A Red, Red Rose." It almost seems as if the speaker can't describe his love without mentioning some part of the natural world (the seas, rocks, roses, the seasons), which suggests that human emotions are organic, that they are just as natural as rocks and flowers. Yet even though emotions are natural, they appear to possess a longer shelf life than the stuff of the great outdoors. When the seas go dry and the rocks melt, the speaker says, his love will still be chugging along.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does the speaker use a rose instead of, say, a thistle (the national flower of Scotland)?
  2. Why does the speaker switch from comparing his love to a rose to comparing it to a melody?
  3. Why all the natural imagery in the first place? What does nature have to do with love?

Chew on This

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

Human emotions are nothing like the natural world. Flowers die. Love doesn't. Geez, get it right, Burns.

All this nature stuff is nothing but mumbo jumbo. Their love can't last longer than the sea, because they'll die. Bummer.

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