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Red, Red Rose

Red, Red Rose

Traditionally entitled “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” and often published as a poem, Robert Burns’ piece is a 1774 song sung in Scots by the poet himself, based on traditional sources.  Burns’ worked for the last ten years of his life on different projects to preserve traditional Scottish songs for the future, one of the most famous being “Auld Lang Syne”, and “A Red, Red Rose” was one of these, which he then gave to the Scots singer Pietro Urbiani who published it in his book “Scots Songs”.  Like Denny Bradbury’s poem “My Gift To You” from her new collection “De-versify”, in which she talks of how love can be found through all seasons, despite the darkness of winter and the lack of sunlight:

“..Oh! Love is summer, it is spring
But love is winter too
Be happy in the tide of life
My love, my gift to you

so too does Burns refer to how his love for another is like the red rose that can be found in the summer month of June and within the most melodious of tunes:

“O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune..”

Just as he talks of a love that is both fresh and long-lasting, promising he will return, regardless of the time or distance:

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

Denny Bradbury in her poem “Hold Me Gently” talks of the power of a love that leaves her bereft when her love is not beside her:

“Hold me gently
rock me deep
into the fathomless pool of a deep, deep sleep
there let me be till the sun reappears
and the heat of your love in the day
dries my tears…..
……random drops of my fears
and my loneliness
for none to see as I am alone

without you beside me.”

“A Red, Red Rose” is written in four quatrains, with the inclusion of repetition to emphasize his firm belief that he will love his lady forever and will return no matter what:

“..And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.”

Denny Bradbury, in her poem “So Grey the Sea” deploys a similar tactic, repeating her first verse as her last verse to illustrate how the writer has come full circle:

“So grey the sea
All white the foam
I journey forth
To come back home…”