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Compare and contrast the style and theme of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" to...

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bflerlage | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 12, 2008 at 9:47 AM via web

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Compare and contrast the style and theme of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" to "A Red Red Rose" by Burns?

I know the theme of "A Red Red Rose" by Robert Burns is about his commitment of everlasting love to his beautiful girl and a promise of continued love even when they are parted. What is the style used for this piece? And how does it compare/contrast with Sonnet 18 Shakespeare?

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted August 12, 2008 at 11:45 PM (Answer #1)

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 the theme of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is that his lover is more beautiful and desirable than "a summer's day" because even such a wonderful season like summer has its flip side-it's too short and sometimes too hot. He concludes by saying that he wishes to immortalize  forever the beauty of his lover in his poetry.

Towards the end of his life Robert Burns (1759-96) was engaged in the task of collecting old traditional scottish songs. In one of his letters in 1794 he states that the song "A Red, Red Rose" is "a simple old Scots song which I picked up in the country." Hence the poem is not his original composition.

Burns' poem is a song which is set to music and is sung unlike Shakespeare's sonnet which cannot be set to music and cannot be sung.

Both are love poems and praise the beauty of their lovers.  Shakespeare merely praises the beauty of his lover but the lover in Burns' song in addition to praising the beauty of his lover swears that he will love her forever:"I will luve thee still my dear/While the sands o' life shall run." 

Burns' poem is charmingly simple and direct in its method of praising the lover and most significantly describes how much he loves her:"As fair art, thou my bonny lass/So deep in luve I am."  Shakespeare does not mention how much he loves his lover but  merely intellectualises his lover's beauty.

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