One Perfect Rose
by Dorothy Parker
In a poem called "One Perfect Rose" there should be plenty of roses around, right? Yes indeed there should be, and every little nook and cranny in this lyric is packed with thoughts of this typically romantic flower. First off there's the refrain in lines 4, 8, and 12, which just so happens to be the same as the title. On top of that, there's a rose that speaks (bizarre)! People usually like getting roses, of course, but this poem features a speaker who's really kind of bored with them.
- Line 1: A man has sent the speaker only a single flower since they met. The tone here is ambiguous. The speaker is either complaining that she's only received one flower, or simply stating a fact. Judging from the title, we can guess that this flower is a rose, and therefore a likely symbol of romantic love.
- Line 3: The flower is "deep-hearted, pure," and scented with wet dew. That sounds juicy. Deep-hearted? It probably has something do with the emotions of the man that sent the flower, or the extremely red color of the petals. Heart=blood=red. To suggest that rose can be capable of the same emotions as the human sender, though, is a case of personification. And again the flower is a symbol of love, affection, and the like.
- Line 4: It turns out the flower is actually a perfect rose. One. Perfect. Rose. This line will be repeated two more times, which makes it a refrain.
- Lines 5-6: Whoa. That rose can speak too, and the speaker understands what it says. A speaking flower? That's personification. Obviously, the flower isn't really holding the sender's heart, so this is a metaphor for the way in which the flower communicates the man's feelings.
- Lines 7-8: It seems like forever that love has used the rose as his amulet—i.e., a charm or token or talisman or what have you. Of course, love can't really "take" anything, so this is an example of personification. And the whole amulet deal is a metaphor for the ways in which people use roses as tokens or expressions of love. Again, the phrase "One perfect rose" is a refrain.
- Lines 11-12: The speaker complains that is always just her luck to get one perfect rose. It sounds like getting a rose can actually be a source of irritation rather than joy. Frowny face. Oh, and one last time, we get the refrain.