Five Scottish love poems for Valentine's Day

From red, red roses to the humble onion, Scottish poets have found many ways to describe and celebrate their loved ones.

In celebration of Valentine's Day, find out more about five classic Scottish love poems, or write one in a card for a special someone…

1. A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

"O my Luve is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;"

When it comes to classic symbols of love, Burn’s Red Red Rose is right up there with a red, red heart.

In one of the most famous love poems of all time, Burns goes all out to express the wonder of love: It’s beautiful like a flower, it’s sweet like music, it’s deep as the sea.

And Burns isn’t afraid of a long distance relationship. Forget The Proclaimers walking 500 miles, Burns isn’t afraid of travelling “ten thousand miles” to get to the one he loves.

Read more about A Red, Red Rose with Higher English here.

A Red, Red Rose opens with a simile comparing the speaker's love of a woman to a rose.

2. Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

"Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion."

On the face of it, Carol Ann Duffy’s choice of present makes some droopy flowers from the garage look thoughtful. Onions are cheap, not the prettiest and they make your breath smell.

But Duffy peels back the layers of her metaphorical onion to suggest love in all its complexity – humble, nourishing, full of flavour but not without tears.

Maybe not for a first date though.

Read more about Valentine with Higher English here.

Duffy uses the metaphor of an onion to describe the complexity of love in her poem 'Valentine'.

3. View of Scotland/Love Poem by Liz Lochhead

"we did not know that we were

the happiness we wished each other

when the Bells went, did we?"

Valentine's Day isn't the only romantic holiday. Many a couple has enjoyed a midnight kiss at New Year.

That’s Liz Lochhead’s inspiration for View of Scotland/Love Poem. The poem combines Lochhead’s memories of Hogmanay in the 1950s and a love poem written for her husband to suggest enduring love that lasts through the years.

Read more about View of Scotland/Love Poem with Higher English here.

Lochhead revisits three memorable New Year's Eves to explore the relationship between past and present.

4. Shores by Sorley MacLean

"I would wait there forever,

for the sea draining drop by drop."

Liz Lochhead’s love might last through many years, but for Sorley MacLean, love is eternal.

Shores is steeped in the natural environment of Maclean's upbringing. Through nature, he creates an enduring image of powerful love that is able to withstand the destructive power of the sea and of time.

Think of that if you’re having a romantic stroll on the beach.

Read more about Shores with Higher English here.

MacLean imagines himself with the object of his affections in various locations including the Isle of Skye.

5. Sounds of the Day by Norman MacCaig

"When the door

scraped shut, it was the end

of all the sounds there are.

Let’s not forget that love isn’t all chocolates and flowers. Nothing feels quite as bad as when love goes wrong. If that’s how you’re feeling, Valentine’s Day is just the reminder you don’t need.

It isn’t just happy love that inspires poets, the intensity of breaking up does too.

In Sounds of the Day, Norman MacCaig is plunged into a silent, empty world when his love walks out on him. He sums up just how difficult it can be to move on when you’ve loved someone that much.

Read more about Sounds of the Day with Higher English here.

MacCaig uses the sound of a closing door to signal the end of a relationship.
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