One of the finest and best-known of the world's love songs, this is a good example of Burns's talent for distilling and re-working the best elements of older material. Founded on the lyrics of several earlier traditional ballads, it was first published in April 1794 in the collection `Scots Songs' by the Milanese composer-singer and Scottish folksong researcher Pietro Urbani (1749-1816). Another version subsequently appeared in the SMM (Vol V, 1796) set to Niel Gow's air `Graham's Strathspey', and in 1797 in the SCSA. Thomson adjusted (some might say disfigured) Burns's gem to fit `Wishaw's Favourite' by William Marshall (1748-1833). Later still, the poem was applied to the air we now know best (`Low Down in the Broom'), a version which first appeared in the `Scottish Minstrel' in 1821.

   O, my luve is like a red, red rose,
      That's newly sprung in June.
   O, my luve is like the melodie,
      That's sweetly play'd in tune.

   As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
      So deep in luve am I,
   And I will luve thee still, my dear, 
      Till a' the seas gang dry.

   Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
      And the rocks melt wi the sun!
   And I will luve thee still, my dear,
      While the sands o life shall run.

   And fare thee weel, my only luve!
      And fare thee weel, a while!
   And I will come again, my luve,
      Tho it were ten thousand mile!