Full critical analysis of John Anderson My Jo by Robert Burns
point by point, line by line explanation and important critical comment on the poem
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The poem (like most of Robbie Burns's works) uses figurative language to represent the reality of aging, love, sex, and death. It also has a perennial theme of devotion and eternal love.
In the poem, a woman speaks to her husband, John Anderson, her jo (sweetheart/love) reminding him, first, on how his hair was once dark, and curly where now is balding and grey. Yet, she "blesses" it, meaning that she indeed still loves her husband.
She talks about how her and John have gone through life together, and basically how they have gone through the perils of aging, and will prob. meet in the afterlife after they die.
In a naughty part, she even mentions his buttocks and how she understands that he may have lost the desire to make love with age, but that, although she would very much prefer that it came back to him, she is still devoted to him.
In the end, she mentions the word "sleeping" which, of course means dying. Hence, the last part of the poem is basically a declaration of undying and eternal love.
The poem “John Anderson, my jo” by Robert Burns is basically a romantic message by John’s wife to John as a summary of their past and her devotion to him until death. The poem also serves to celebrate ageing love.
She begins by describing his looks the first time they met. She states that John’s hair was like the raven, this means his hair was black, but due to age and as stated in the sixth line, John’s hair is like snaw (snow), meaning his hair turned white. She further describes his face and braw in the fourth line, where she states that he was handsome and smooth. She also employs the word “jo” which can be taken to mean “my love” or darling at every mention of his name. On the second verse, she points out what they have been through together, and the happiness they shared. They were strong then, but now they totter (slow walk) together. She ends the verse by stating that, just as they have been together all their lives, they will also die together.
“And hand in hand we’ll go, And sleep together at the foot”.
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