A Red, Red Rose Critical Overview
by Robert Burns

A Red, Red Rose book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download A Red, Red Rose Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Critical Overview

(Poetry for Students)

Critics discuss “A Red, Red Rose” in terms of the delicacy of its craft and the power of its expression. Franklyn Bliss Snyder sees “A Red, Red Rose” as an example of Burns’s proficiency at English verse. Calling it “one of the perfectly cut and polished gems in Burns’s song collection,” the critic points out that “four touches of the vernacular— bonie, gang, a’, and weel—are all that save the song from being pure English.” Iain Crichton Smith calls “A Red, Red Rose” an example of the sentiments of a by-gone era, suggesting that we cannot enjoy such a direct anticipation of an enduring relationship in modern times. “A poem like ‘A Red Red Rose’ begs too many questions, is too set in one inflated mood for us to write like it, because we would be far more concerned with the shadows. How could we possibly, in our world, speak of such permanency,” he writes, possibly yearning for those by-gone times. In contrast, David Daiches writes fondly of the poem’s depiction of the tenderness and swagger of the young man in love.