Figurative Language of Robert Burns' Poems

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Poetry is one of the literary works that express the feeling of the poet with beautiful words and meaningful. According to Hunt poem is “an expression feeling. Beauty, and power, consummate and describe conception with imagination and fantasy, and the set language on the basis of diversityin unity” (Hudson, 1913: 83. Poetry general nature such as the ancient language (Perrine,1983: 515). According to Eagletonpoetry is the language that 'emotive' than 'referential', such as 'False statement' that seems to describe the world but in fact only regulate our feelings on a matter in a satisfactory way (1996: 39). Poetry is required in order to acquire the lamguage, rhyme, and rhytm is important part to be studied (Wood, 2012: 1).

Languages play an important role in poetry, because through language poet can express what is felt by the poet. Language is the raw material of letters. It can be said that every work of literature is just a selection of some parts of a particular language (Wellek and Warren, 1977: 198). Literary language is sometimes interpreted as a deviation from normal language. This suggests that the literary text is characterized by the use of figurative language in which a figure of speech in denifisikan as a deviation from the usual or literal language (Bannett and Royle, 2004: 77). Figurative language is the expression used to give color or strength in speech or writing (Wainwright, 2004: 185). According Perriene figurative language is a language that does not use the language in general, or is another way of saying something else than the usual way or in this case the language used. (1983: 576). Figurative language is a habit to speculate on the understanding of a language as a standard definition sentence, or results (Abrams, 1999: 96). The figure of speech referring to the viewpoint of the 'indirect' or 'logical' that maintains that the initial analysis to literal and if the interpretation is unreasonable, then the process is returned to figurative language sentence accordingly (Krause, 2008: 13).

In other words, figurative language is the language that express a meaning indirectly. The types of figurative language is metaphorical, similitude, personification, sinedoke, metonymy, symbol, hyperbole, irony. There are so many well-known poet who uses figurative language in their poems, one of which is Robert Burns. Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. The poems are written in English and Scots dialect. He was born on January 25, 1759, in lloway, Ayshire, Scotland. He was renowned as a pioneer in the Age of Romanticism to lyric poetry. In his life he was a poor farmer, but he was able to channel his ability to make poetry. In July 1786, he published his first work, the volume of lyric poems, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. In November 1786, he moved to Edinburgh. There he had many friends, one of which James Johnson, a young music publishers. They build a Musical Museum, a collection of traditional Scottish music. In the summer of 1788, Burns moved to a farm in Ellisland and married Jean Amour. They had nine children but only three are alive.

In 1791, Burns stopped being a farmer and moved to nearby Dumfries town with his family. He worked as a tax official. In the same year, he published 'Tam O 'Shanter' which is the work of poetry narativ of autobiographical stories of farmers ne'er-do-well. Then, in 1793, he contributed to the issuer belongs to George Thomson A Select Collection of Original Scottish airs for the Voice.The Scots Musical Museumyang make the most of the poems and the work area lalgu Burns, including his masterpiece 'Auld Lang Syne', ' A Red, Red Rose 'and' The Battle of Sherramuir '. Burns died on 21 July 1796 in Dumfries, at age 37, due to illness. His funeral was performed on 25 July, where on the same day his son Maxwell was born. To remember him, an edition of his poems was published for the life of his wife and children. The author chose this title because of the language of poetry is interesting to study because of the words used figurative language poet has meaning, to understand figurative language we can know the message contained in the poem. There are several types of figurative language that can be analyzed. In addition, there has been no previous study that analyzes the figurative language in the poetry of Robert Burns, it makes the writer interested in analyzing figurative language. Five poems that Red Red Rose, To A Mouse, A Man's A Man For A 'That, Up In The Morning Early, and Of A' The Airts The Wind Can Blaw.

Research Questions

  • What are the types of figurative language used by Robert Burns in his poems?
  • What is the meaning of the figurative language used by Robert Burns in his poems?

Research Objective

  • To identify and categorize the types of figurative language used by Robert Bruns in his poems.
  • To describe and analyze the meaning of the figurative language used by Robert Burns in his poems.

Previous Studies

I found some previous studies of English Allusion in poetry, namely:

  1. Minhatul Maula (2013), in his thesis entitled 'An Analysis Of Figurative Language On The Poems Entitled “Classic Poetry Series” By William Blake'. In his thesis, Based on the findings and discussions, so, the researcher has found eleven types of figurative language used on some of William Blake's poems. The eleven types of figurative language are found based on the data are used in the collection of William Blake's poems there are: Alliteration, Hyperbole, Irony, Litotes, Metaphor, Metonymy, Paradox, Personification, Pun, Simile, and Synecdoche. The conclusion which can be taken from the data source is that the most commonly figurative language which used in the poems of William Blake is Hyperbole. From the eleven kinds of figurative language which used in the poem, so, there are many different messages that can be taken from those poems.
  2. Mousa Btoosh (2016), in his research entitled 'The Pragmatics of Color in Antara’s Poetry. His paper has taken a psycho-pragmatic approach to Antara’s use of color. It is evident from the examples cited above that Antara challenged and was perfectly able to shake at the root the long and well-established social stereotypes concerning color. For the purposes posited above, a variety of examples have been examined thoroughly to figure out the underlying themes of both blackness and whiteness depending on the clues and the abstract contexts.

The most notable result is that the poet was able to alleviate the negative connotations clung to blackness by associating it with all natural items that are considered socially precious. Additionally, the poet deliberately belittled the prevailing social values associated with whiteness by using it in contexts where blackness outweighs whiteness. Again, the poet succeeded to attract receivers’ attention to the fact that judging things based on their appearance is often misleading. Based on a literature review of the above, the equation of this study with previous research is the author analyzes the figurative language and use the same theory. While the difference is the author analyzes the figurative language in the poetry of Robert Burns.


The study is divided into three parts:


I am looking for the poetry of Robert Burns on the internet and some journals deal with figurative language. Then, read some poems, then the I chose five poems for analysis in selected randomly. I chose five poems as I can not examine all of a poem by Robert Burns.

Data Collection

In collecting the data, the poem identifies the types of poetry in a column. The first column contains couplets using figurative language. While the second column contains lines that use figurative language. The third column, lists the types of figurative language. Finally, the fourth column, contains the meaning of figurative language.

Data Analysis

In analyzing the data, I use descriptive method to identify and categorize poem based on the figurative language that uses the theory of Perrine.


'Red Red Rose'

In the poem 'Red Red Rose' there are several types of figurative language that is asfollowing:

Figurative Language: Simile

In the first verse of the first line contained the phrase 'O, my luve is like a red, redrose ' poet uses words like comparing her love 'my luve' roses red 'red rose'. In the third row there is the phrase 'O, my luve is like the melodie' poet also uses words like comparing her love 'my luve' melody 'the melodie'. In the second stanza the first line contained the sentence 'As fair art thou, my bonnie lass' As the poet uses the word in comparing her lover 'my bonnie lass' with the beautiful artwork 'art'.

Figurative Language: Hyperbole

Hyperbole figurative language found in the third stanza third and fourth linenamely 'Till a 'the seas gang dry, my dear,' and 'An the rocks melt wi' the sun'. Bait is very exaggerate.

'To a Mouse'

Figurative Language: Synecdoche

Figurative language synecdoche found on the second verse the second line is 'Has broken Nature's Social Union' in this poem the word 'Nature's' which means that nature took the place of living mice in which the line before the sentence 'I'm truly sorry man's dominion' which has meaning the poet apologized to rats for devastating homes.

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Figuratively Language: Irony

The second stanza the first row, second row and the fifth row are the figurative language of irony in the phrase 'I'm truly sorry man's dominion', 'Has broken Nature's Social Union' and 'At me, thy poor, earth-born companion.'. In this poem contains lines on the irony language figurative language that have a meaning that is contrary to the truth.

In the first line to the third line of the sentence 'But Mousie, thou art no thy lane', 'In proving foresight may be vain,' and 'The best-laid schemes o 'Mice an' Men,' explained that the rats could tell future as we know rats could not do it. In the next lines in the fourth stanza until the sixth stanza, the phrase 'Gang aft agley', 'An 'leave us naught but grief and pain,' and 'For promis'd joy!' Which means that the rats had suffered enough life together with humans, as if the poet were expecting a better life for mice.

Figuratively Language: Personification

The phrase 'Thy wee bit Housie, too, in ruin!' In the first line of the fourth stanza the personification figurative language by using the word 'Housie' which means home. 'Up In The Morning Early'

Figurative Language: Personification

In the first verse of the second row, there are the words 'The drift is driving sairly;'mempersonifikan swirl that by using the word 'driving' means driving, the wind seemed to be driving a vehicle such as a human.

In the third stanza the first line there are sentences that contain the personification ofwhere the poet personifies the phrase 'birds sit' as if the birds were able to sit like a human.

'Of A 'The Airts The Wind Can Blaw'

Figurative Language: Hyperbole

In the second stanza there are also some figurative language of hyperbole on the first line the phrase 'I see her in the dewy flowers,' which means 'I saw it in embunan flowers”. The third line in the sentence 'I hear her in the Tunefu 'birds”. The fourth line in the sentence 'I hear her charm the water:'

Figuratively Language: Symbolism

In the second verse of the fifth row poet uses figurative language symbols contained in the phrase 'There's not a flower that springs Bonnie,' in which there is a phrase in the sentence 'Bonie flower' which means beautiful flower. Figurative language symbol also found on the sixth line of the second verse 'By the fountain, shaw, or green;' where in the sentence includes the word 'green' has the meaning that is green as a sign of freshness, coolness, peace or younger.

Figurative Language: Personification

In the first verse of this third row there is a figure of speech personification of the phrase 'But day and night my fancys' flight'. The poet personifies the word 'flight' means the flight, as if 'my fancys '' was seen by a real and can make the flight.

In the second stanza, there are also the personification of figurative language in the seventh row, the phrase 'There's not a Bonie bird that sings,'. Poet personifies the phrase 'birds that sings' which is as if the birds can sing.

'A Man's A Man For A 'That'

Figuratively language Symbols

In the first verse of the seventh row, there are the words 'The rank is but the guinea's stamp,' in the phrase contained the phrase 'the guinea's stamp' as a means simbolyang guinea stamp.

In the second stanza the third row, there are the words 'Gie fools Reviews their silks, and knaves Reviews their wine;' the poet uses the word 'knaves' as a symbol meaning


After conducting an analysis with regard to writing, entitled 'Language metaphor inRobert Burns Poems' to categorize species as well as to explain the meaning and significance of the discussed figure in the poetry of Robert Burns, finally can conclude some of the following:

Types of Metaphor in English-Poetry Poetry Works of Robert Burns

  • The poem 'Red Red Rose': the figurative language of simile and hyperbole
  • The poem 'To A Mouse': the figurative language of synecdoche, irony, personification.
  • The poem 'Up In The Morning Early': thefigurative language of personification.
  • The poem 'Of A 'The Airts The Wind Can Blaw': the figurative language of hyperbole, symbolism, and personification.
  • The poem 'A Man's A Man For A 'That': the figurative language of symbolism, and metaphors.

Based on analysis of figurative language of each poem above, I concluded that in the poems of Robert Burns, there are seven types of figurative language, including: hyperbole, personification, symbolism, metaphor, simile, synecdoche, and irony. It's just a figure of speech personification dominate and not be found metonymy figurative language in a poem by Robert Burns analyzed the meaning of the figurative language used by Robert Burns in his poems that describe her feelings, the atmosphere of the surrounding nature, and social status that occurred at the time of his life.

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