‘O my Luve is like a red, red rose’ is one of the most famous similes in all of poetry, one of the most recognisable opening lines, and one of the best-known romantic lines. Yet its true origins are a little less straightforward than we might think (did Robert Burns even write it?), so it’s worth subjecting ‘A Red, Red Rose’ to some closer scrutiny and analysis.
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry. Read the rest of this entry
‘Our England is a garden that is full of stately views, / Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues’. So begins ‘The Glory of the Garden’, a classic poem about English gardens from one of the most popular poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).
‘The Glory of the Garden’ by Rudyard Kipling
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You’ll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks. Read the rest of this entry
A short introduction to the tale of the three wishes
The pattern of three is deeply imbedded in the structure of the fairy tale. Numerous fairy stories, from Goldilocks and the three bears to Rumpelstiltskin to the story of Snow White (to name but three) rely in part on the tripartite narrative structure (three bears, three bowls of porridge, three visits to the house, three nights, and so on). But perhaps the most concentrated example of this patterning is the fairy tale titled ‘The Three Wishes’, where the entire story hinges on the granting of three wishes to a character.
In summary, the story of the three wishes runs as follows. A man and his wife are poor and wish they were happier and better off, especially compared with their neighbours. At that moment, a fairy appears to them, and says she will grant them their next three wishes, but no more. After the fairy disappears, the husband and wife mull over their wishes. The wife says it makes sense to wish to be handsome, rich, and ‘of good quality’. But the husband replies: you can be good-looking and rich but still be sick, full of worry, and end up dying young. So it’s better to ask for good health, happiness, and a long life. The wife retorts: but what Read the rest of this entry