Form

The ballad stanza

Poetic form is an integral aspect of all poems within this set; ‘Red, Red Rose’ is no different. This poem follows the formal conventions of traditional ballads and folksong. It is tightly controlled by:

  • fixed rhyme
  • metre
  • line length
  • stanza length

The ballad stanza is used in verses one and two. Each comprising of:

  • four lines (or quatrains)
  • the rhyme scheme abcb

This rhyme scheme alters slightly in verses three and four with the poet adopting an alternating abab rhyme scheme using masculine end rhyme (dear/dear/sun/run and luve/luve/ while/mile). This subtle change in rhythm and rhyme brings the poem to an emphatic climax.

Red, Red Rose is first and foremost a song, and, as such, makes use of techniques designed to have aural appeal. In traditional Scottish balladry, the following techniques are used to make the song easier for the listener to commit to memory:

  • phrase patterning
  • repetition (particularly incremental repetition where a phrase is repeated with subtle adjustments throughout)

Such techniques are referred to as mnemonic devices and prove highly effective here.

Further generic markers of folksong can be found within Red, Red Rose such as references to:

  • colour
  • periods of time
  • nature

These simplistic techniques create universal symbols that it is easy for any reader to relate to emotionally.