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One Perfect Rose

One Perfect Rose


by Dorothy Parker

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 1

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.

  • The speaker has received one flower from her man since they met. (For the record, "flow'r" just means that you should pronounce "flower" as one syllable, not two. So, instead of saying "flow-er," it should sound more like "flowr." Why do this? Well, we're guessing that it's got something to do with the meter of the poem. For more on that, go check out "Form and Meter.")
  • We're wondering why the speaker mentions that it's just a "single" flower. It's almost like she's saying: "He's only given me 1 flower! Uno!"
  • Hmmm, maybe this dude isn't Mr. Right, but Mr. Bad Boyfriend.

Line 2

All tenderly his messenger he chose;

  • The speaker very "tenderly," or lovingly, selected a messenger. Wait, wait, wait. What messenger?
  • Is the speaker talking about the flower delivery guy? Hmm, probably not.
  • The messenger is likely the "flower." Of course, it's not really an actual messenger. So this is a metaphor.
  • So what message is the flower bringing? We'll probably learn about that later.
  • For now, though, we can say that generally a flower is a messenger of love, affection, sympathy, and all that other good, mushy stuff.
  • Maybe Mr. Bad Boyfriend isn't so bad after all.

Lines 3-4

Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
One perfect rose.

  • The speaker starts to get all poetic and all tender now.
  • The flower she has received is "Deep-hearted, pure," and "wet" with dew. This isn't one of those cheap, wilted knock-offs. It's a perfect rose. PER-FECT. Perfecto. Perfectamundo.
  • (Psst, doesn't this description of the rose remind you of the perfect kiss? Pure, deep, and wet? Um, like these.) 
  • Still, what does it mean for a flower to be "deep-hearted"? Does it have a "heart" just like an artichoke does? Eh, no, not really. 
  • Maybe it's really, really, red, which makes the speaker think it has a strong heart? Or maybe the speaker is confusing the guy's heartfelt gesture with the rose itself?
  • We'd be willing to bet that all of these possibilities are at work at the same time.
  • On top of all this, the rose is wet with some kind of scented dew. Hmm. Maybe it's the guy's cologne?
  • She probably also has in mind both the beautiful odor of the rose and that earthy smell that plants sometimes emit.
  • Rhyme alert! In this stanza, the first and third lines rhyme, as do the second and fourth. More on that in our "Form and Meter" section.

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