The poetry of Robert Burns displays a number of attributes that are commonly associated with Romantic poetry. because burns wrote in an earlier time-period than the Romantics poets, his works is sometimes considered to be pre-Romantic. This term means that his poems anticipate some of the later developments in poetry that were part of the Romantic movement. Some of these attributes are: a focus on nature, the use of melodious or musical words and rhythm, and the theme of transcendence through art and contemplation. The Romantic poets were comfortable with writing poetry that evoked sounds and rhythm more than distinct or obvious meaning. Likewise, Burns often writes phrases that place more of an emphasis on melodious sound thna overt meaning. One example of this is his phrase, “It is the moon, I ken her horn, /That’s blinkin’ in the lift° sae hie;” (Greenblatt, 1) from his poem “Willie Brewed a Peck o’ Maut.” This phrase shows exceptional use of figurative language that is also very musical in its sound. Also, the phrase is based in natural imagery which is a component of Romantic poetry.
Another aspect of Burns’ poetry that anticipates the Romantic movement is his use of dramatic emotional contrasts. In his poem “Ae Fond kiss” for example, the lines “Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee, / Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.” (Greenblatt, 3) show a connection between love and melancholy. The Romantic poets emphasized the experiences of emotion and nature as primary elements of poetic expression. Burns shows a similar emphasis on the transformative power of emotional experience whether for good or bad. His poetry is infused with dramatic changes in emotion as well as with studied imagery of nature; these are aspects of the later Romantic movement.
Greenblatt, Stephan. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. W. W. Norton and Company. New York and London. 9th Edition, Volume 2.