John Anderson, My Jo

John Anderson, My Jo, is a love poem written by Robert Burns. The poem is written in a Scottish dialect and is about the beloved referring to her lover, saying that it is now time for them to “totter down” the hill of life together and reach the end, that is death. Life has been compared to the descending nature of a hill. When they are on the top of the hill, life is beautiful and giving but as they go lower, they will reach the end of life. 

The poem My Jo differs from many of the other poems in the poetry handout provided. One of the major differences we see when we begin reading the poem is that the speaker is the beloved referring to the lover, instead of the other way around. The speaker describes how her lover has aged and life is coming to an end, they wish to spend their afterlife together. In some other poems, the main convention is about intimacy, whereas here it represents true love. 

 Another difference is that the poem has a mixed rhyme scheme, most of the other poems either have a standard rhyme scheme or no rhyme scheme. The speaker has also added use of repetition into the poem, “Your bonie brow was brent;” (I-4), “John Anderson, my jo” (II- 1,7,8,15). Through the way the poem has been portrayed, I get a sense that the lover is old, tired, and does not want to do anything much, maybe he doesn’t love her anymore. 

This poem is suggesting that even women can try and persuade love, sometimes even more than men. The poem is filled with emotions, it shows the sadness of separation, ever-lasting love, and faith that their love shall last all eternity. Many readers might view the poem in a sing-song manner as many of the lines repeat often, this gives it a more mellow and soothing effect. 



One thought on “John Anderson, My Jo”

  1. Divya, I enjoyed reading your post about this poem. One thing I will mention about conventions is that, when writing the title of a short work such as a poem, you put the title in quotation marks (e. g. “John Anderson, My Jo” is a poem written by Robert Burns). Secondly, in your third paragraph, you referred to line four’s repetition in letters (with almost all the words starting in “b”). To expand your vocabulary: this type of repetition in beginning letters is called “alliteration.”


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