Comparison of Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose" and Christina Rosetti's "A Birthday"
Though the subject of both Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose" and Christina Rosetti's "A Birthday" is love, the tone, diction, and form of each underline the different themes. The theme of the Burns poem is the beautiful ardency of the lover saying farewell to his love, while the Rosetti poem focuses on the joyous feelings of lovers being reunited. Both poems convey love as an emotion that transcends the immediate world of feeling; thus, references are made by the speakers to eternity, and vivid imagery is employed to describe extraordinary settings.
Although both poems focus on love, the tone in the Burns poem is tragic, while "A Birthday" conveys celebratory feelings. The speaker of "A Red, Red Rose" shows reverence for his lover, comparing her to "a red, red rose / that's newly sprung in June" and a "melodie / that's sweetly play'd in tune". The use of these comparisons adds a delicate innocence to his "bonie lass". The comparison to a red rose, an ingredient of the common folksong, is an approapriate way for Burns to characterize this young woman because the image and beauty of the rose is simple and understood universally. The way in which the speaker addresses his love also reflects tenderness and a sense of ownership: "my only love", "my dear", and "my bonie lass". The references made to the rose, the seas, the rocks, the sun and "the sands o' life" give the poem a basis in the natural world. This is fitting, for love is a natural human emotion that occurs without the permission or plan of man. The change of tense in the second stanza from the present to the future marks a change in sentiment as well. It is at this point that the speaker begins to make promises of his everlasting love, thus reverting to a tragic mood. The phrases "till a' the seas gang dry" and "the rocks melt wi' the sun" show the desperation of the speaker convey his dedication to his love. Burns'...
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