Identify the type of stanza used by Robert Burns in "A Red, Red Rose." Is it a standard habbie, ballad stanza, ottava rima, or spenserian stanza?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Burns poem, "A Red, Red Rose" is written in (b) the ballad stanza.  This stanza is a quatrain, in a form that consists of four and three-stress lines. And, usually, only the second and fourth lines rhyme. The traditional rhyme scheme of abcb is followed for two stanzas. In place of the lines that do not rhyme, assonance is often used:

That's newly sprung in June  [the schwa sound of vowels is repeated]

In Burns's poem, which is based upon a folk song that he heard on his travels, there is a repetition of lines in keeping with the musicality of the poem, much like refrains, but they are within the stanzas rather than at the ends.  In each stanza the second and fourth lines are in masculine rhyme--the final syllable mimcs the final syllable of another word.

It is the last stanza that clearly reads like a ballad with the "fare-thee-weel" of the first line repeated in the second as a refrain.  However, the poem is more that a simple love ballad, as the speaker meditates upon time--"Till a' the seas gang dry"--he also promises to transcend time.