The title of the poem refers to the sick rose in the poem that falls victim to the worm's "dark secret love" (7). The poem is called "The Sick Rose," but we don't learn a whole lot about the rose's sickness; we're tempted to think that sickness is a metaphor for something else, perhaps for a certain view of love that the poem argues is destructive. If the rose is a symbol of love or passion, and the rose is sick, then perhaps our ideas about love and passion are sick as well. We think of love, which is pretty much synonymous with sex in this poem, as something to be kept "dark" and "secret." Well, it turns out that that idea of love can have destructive consequences: it destroys the rose.