An immortal rose-and-love poem by the great Scottish bard, Robert Burns (1759-1796) whose 250th birthday inspired a riot of online celebration in his native land. Burns coined some acute expressions in his poems ("best-laid plans of mice and men," "man's inhumanity to man"), but this poem, written in 1794, endures not for its philosophy, but for its wave-crashing rhythm and brash declarations of love. It's over the top, but you feel that the poet meant it when he wrote it. The images are cadged from a far less transporting traditional folk song, but as with "Auld Lang Syne," Burns' talent made doggerel delectable. His robust stanzas shape the elements into lyrical avowals of passion. Seas going dry, rocks melting with the sun--who wouldn't want to be loved like that? No wonder so many bonie lasses fell for him.
Surprising-yet-not-surprising cross-century conjunctions: in 2003 Bob Dylan cited "A Red, Red Rose" when asked which lyric or verse had the greatest influence on his life. Sometime in the 1820s Abraham Lincoln became a life-long fan.
Because I craved a Scottish accent for the audio version of the poem (see player below), I had to record off the telephone, so you'll have to imagine that the winds of the highlands are blowing behind Burns' bonie words of luve.
A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.--
As fair art thou, my bonie 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 love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.--
And fare thee weel, my only Luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!
Listen (click green arrow on link below):