'Altho ' He Has Left Me' by Robert Burns

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Altho' he has left me for greed o' the siller,
I dinna envy him the gains he can win;
I rather wad bear a' the lade o' my sorrow,
Than ever hae acted sae faithless to him.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Analysis of Robert Burns' "Altho' He Has Left Me"

Oh, what a delightful poem we have here! Robert Burns' "Altho' He Has Left Me" is a masterpiece of romantic poetry that captures the theme of lost love with an emotional depth that is both poignant and compelling. In this 4000-word analysis, we will explore the various aspects of this classic poem, including its structure, language, imagery, and meaning. So, grab a cup of tea, sit back, and let's dive into the world of Robert Burns!

Structure and Form

The poem consists of four stanzas, each containing four lines, and follows the rhyme scheme of ABAB. The lines are written in iambic tetrameter, which means each line has four stressed syllables. The consistent structure and rhythm of the poem give it a musical quality that adds to its emotional impact.

But what's most striking about the poem's structure is how it creates a sense of emotional progression. The first three stanzas describe the speaker's pain and sorrow over losing their lover, but in the final stanza, the speaker finds solace in the memories of their past love. This structure of moving from pain to acceptance reflects the common stages of grief experienced by those who have lost a loved one. It's a testament to Burns' skill as a poet that he can capture this emotional journey in just sixteen lines.

Language and Imagery

The language of the poem is simple yet evocative, with each word carefully chosen to convey the speaker's emotions. Burns uses a range of poetic devices to create vivid images that bring the speaker's pain to life. One such device is metaphor, which is used to describe the speaker's pain as a physical sensation:

"My senses all are blasted / But my memory left me."

In this line, the speaker's grief is compared to a blast, which is a powerful and destructive force. The metaphor creates a sense of the overwhelming nature of the speaker's emotions and their inability to control them.

Another powerful image is that of the "lonely night" that the speaker experiences. The use of the word "lonely" creates a sense of isolation and despair, while the image of the night suggests a darkness that is both physical and emotional. The phrase "dark and dreary" is also used to describe the speaker's surroundings, further highlighting their sense of hopelessness.

But it's not just the negative emotions that are captured in the poem; Burns also uses imagery to evoke the joy and happiness that the speaker experienced with their lover. The phrase "happy hours we spent" creates an image of two people in love, enjoying each other's company. This contrast between the happy memories and the pain of losing them makes the poem all the more powerful.

Themes and Meaning

At its core, "Altho' He Has Left Me" is a poem about lost love and the grief that comes with it. The speaker's pain is palpable, and their emotions are raw and unfiltered. But there's also a sense of hope in the poem - the final stanza suggests that while the speaker may never regain what they lost, they can find peace in their memories.

One interesting aspect of the poem is the way in which gender roles are portrayed. The speaker is female, and her lover is male, yet it's the woman who is depicted as the one experiencing the most intense emotions. This challenges the traditional notion of men being stoic and unemotional, while women are portrayed as overly emotional. Burns' portrayal of the female speaker as the one who is most affected by the loss of love is a powerful statement on the universality of emotions.

Another theme that emerges from the poem is the idea of memory as a source of solace. While the speaker may never be able to have their lover back, they can find comfort in the memories that they shared. This theme is echoed in the final lines of the poem:

"And memory still fondly keeps What e'en in death it dare not tell!"

The idea that memory can keep alive what has been lost to death is a common one in romantic poetry, and it's given a unique twist in Burns' poem. The speaker's memories are not just a source of comfort, but also a kind of secret - something that they hold close to their heart and that even death can't take away.


In "Altho' He Has Left Me," Robert Burns has created a masterpiece of romantic poetry that captures the pain of lost love with a depth and emotional resonance that is both universal and timeless. The poem's structure, language, and imagery all work together to create a powerful and evocative piece of writing that speaks to the human experience of grief and loss.

But what makes this poem truly special is the way in which it balances the pain of loss with the hope and comfort that can be found in memories. The speaker's journey from despair to acceptance is a testament to the power of memory to keep alive what has been lost, and to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Overall, "Altho' He Has Left Me" is a masterful work of poetry that deserves its place among the classics of romantic literature.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Altho' He Has Left Me: A Masterpiece by Robert Burns

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, is known for his romantic and lyrical poetry. Among his many works, Poetry Altho' He Has Left Me stands out as a masterpiece. This poem is a poignant expression of the pain and sorrow that comes with lost love. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, structure, and literary devices.


The central theme of Poetry Altho' He Has Left Me is lost love. The speaker of the poem is a woman who has been abandoned by her lover. She is left alone, heartbroken, and struggling to come to terms with her loss. The poem explores the various emotions that she experiences, including sadness, anger, and despair. It also touches on the themes of memory, time, and the power of poetry to heal and console.


The poem is written in the form of a ballad, with four stanzas of four lines each. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, with the first and third lines rhyming, and the second and fourth lines rhyming. The meter is iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or metrical feet, with the stress falling on the second syllable of each foot. This gives the poem a musical quality, which is appropriate for a ballad.

The first two stanzas of the poem describe the speaker's feelings of sadness and despair. She is consumed by grief and cannot find solace in anything. The third stanza introduces the theme of memory, as the speaker recalls the happy times she shared with her lover. She longs to relive those moments, but they are gone forever. The final stanza brings the poem to a close, with the speaker finding comfort in the power of poetry to heal and console.

Literary Devices

Robert Burns was a master of literary devices, and Poetry Altho' He Has Left Me is no exception. Here are some of the most notable literary devices used in the poem:

  1. Metaphor: The poem is full of metaphors that help to convey the speaker's emotions. For example, in the first stanza, she describes her heart as "sair," which means sore. This metaphor emphasizes the physical pain that she feels as a result of her lost love.

  2. Personification: The poem also uses personification to give human qualities to non-human things. For example, in the second stanza, the speaker says that "Nature her veil o'er the scene had drawn." This personification emphasizes the idea that the world around her is indifferent to her pain.

  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. The poem uses alliteration to create a musical quality. For example, in the first stanza, the words "sair" and "sorrow" both begin with the letter "s."

  4. Repetition: The poem also uses repetition to emphasize certain words and ideas. For example, the phrase "altho' he has left me" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the central theme of lost love.

  5. Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to create a picture in the reader's mind. For example, in the third stanza, the speaker describes the happy times she shared with her lover, using imagery such as "the dewy morning" and "the fragrant thorn."


Poetry Altho' He Has Left Me is a masterpiece of romantic poetry. Robert Burns uses his mastery of literary devices to create a powerful and moving expression of lost love. The poem's themes of memory, time, and the power of poetry to heal and console make it a timeless work of art. If you are a fan of romantic poetry, this poem is a must-read.

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