Stanza 4 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
can the spice rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?
- Spice roses, as it turns out, are your garden-variety English country rose. They're big, showy roses – the kind that you imagine climbing all over the walls of an English grandmother's garden.
- In other words, they're everything that's conventional and lovely and safe.
- As far as our speaker's concerned, though, the spice rose just doesn't stack up against the sea rose, if only because the sea rose's scent is so much more unique.
- The sea rose doesn't smell like other roses because it hasn't grown up in a cushy, well-fertilized garden like the other roses. That doesn't mean it's worse off than the spice rose – in fact, it makes it more interesting.