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One Perfect Rose by Dorothy Parker


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Focus on Themes and Symbolisms only. Much taken from the shmoop and edited.

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One Perfect Rose by Dorothy Parker

  2. 2. ONE PERFECT ROSE  A single flow'r he sent me, since we met. All tenderly his messenger he chose; Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet— One perfect rose.  I knew the language of the floweret; 'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.' Love long has taken for his amulet One perfect rose.  Why is it no one ever sent me yet One perfect limousine, do you suppose? Ah no, it's always just my luck to get One perfect rose.
  3. 3. SUMMARY  In her poem “One Perfect Rose,” Dorothy Parker misleads the reader throughout the first and second stanzas into believing this poem is a romantic tribute to a tender moment from her past through her word choice and style of writing. However, the tone of the entire poem dramatically changes upon reading the third and final stanza when Parker allows the reader to understand her true intention of the poem, which is a cynical and perhaps bewildered view of the memory. She did not want that one, single rose. She wanted more, perhaps “one perfect limousine.” Here not only does she inform us what she wanted; she mocks what she did receive.
  4. 4. SUMMARY  Each line ends with the line “One perfect rose,” including the last stanza. And. In using the phrase “one perfect limousine” she makes her feeling completely obvious. The rose was unnecessary and unwanted. Using it three time over in the same phrase still did not have the same effect that using the word “limousine” once in the same phrase did. Parker is clearly trying to say that if this gentleman was going to make an effort, he should have made it for something worth her time. This poem is deceptively worded and simple in design. The author, Dorothy Parker, obviously is trying to achieve some shock value for the reader and succeeds in doing so.
  6. 6. THEME : LOVE  "One Perfect Rose" is a love poem alright, but not of the… ahem, usual variety. That's right. There's no "Oh thank you so much for the flowers" in here. Nope. It's all about how the rituals of love have become cliché. Perfect roses? Everybody in love sends those and, frankly, it's a little boring. That, at any rate, is this poem's take on romantic love. It's high time for a change, our speaker suggests.  Sorry, friends. Flowers aren't genuine expressions of love. They are like amulets that are used without much thought or effort, just as a security policy to keep love going.  Love needs to adapt itself to the times, yo! Flowers are old news, and should be replaced with something more creative to represent love.
  7. 7. THEME : MAN AND THE NATURAL WORLD  Flowers are part of the natural world, and people have been using flowers forever to make their houses smell nice, their weddings look pretty, and to express their love. But, at least according to "One Perfect Rose," that was then, and this is now (as in 1926, when the poem was written). Nature just isn't cutting it anymore. Sure, roses are great and all, but in the modern world there are limousines and other modern items that are really a whole lot better.  Live in the now, folks. Nature is the past; technology is the future. Shiny new advances in technology have made nature a lot less interesting than it used to be.  Roses rule! Technology may be cool, but nature will always be purer. Always. Forever.
  8. 8. THEME : WOMEN AND FEMINITY  Guys often send their girlfriends flowers because girls like flowers. At least, that's always been the expected way this works. But sometimes that part of being a woman gets kind of lame. It's almost like guys have decided that the only thing they can ever send girls is flowers. The speaker of this poem uses the rose as a way to reflect on some of the difficulties of being a woman. Just because she's a girl, doesn't mean she doesn't want other things (hello, a limousine!). The whole girls-love-flowers thing is a stereotype about women, and "One Perfect Rose" wants to destroy it.  Things can be tough for women. Who would want to only ever receive flowers? Ugh, nobody ever.  Au contraire. Women are naturally closer to nature than men. The speaker, for example, can understand the flower's language.
  10. 10. SYMBOL : ROSE  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.
  11. 11. SYMBOL : ROSE  The poem by Parker uses the classical symbol of a rose. Which usually represents love and romance, Parker puts her own spin on this common symbol. She describes how a rose is fragile and how your heart is enclosed in it. She goes on to describe it's perfect smell, and pure image. In the last few lines, we see a change in the entire view of the poem, by asking "why not a limousine?" This shows that a rose is nice and all, but regardless, it is still just a flower. She sees the rose as a cheap gift and would much rather have her lover show his affection through materialistic goods.
  12. 12. SYMBOL : ROSE (IN LYRICS)  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. And again the flower is a symbol of love, affection, and the like.
  13. 13. SYMBOL : ROSE (IN LYRICS)  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.
  14. 14. SYMBOL : PERFECTION  Nothing is perfect. Well, actually that's not really true. Sometimes roses can be perfect, at least according to the speaker of "One Perfect Rose." But even if the rose is perfect—great petal shape, perfect color, etc.—it's not really a perfect way to express love. No, it's kind of a cliché. Even something perfect can still be imperfect.
  15. 15. SYMBOL: PERFECTION (IN LYRICS)  Line 2: The man's tenderness makes him seem like the perfect guy. Little does he know, however, that his gesture will soon turn out to be not so perfect. Disappointment is coming…  Line 6: So, it turns out that the flower's leaves are fragile. This is our first hint that both the flower and the guy aren't so perfect after all. Perfection may be about more than just sending flowers and being nice, as it turns out.
  16. 16. SYMBOL: PERFECTION (IN TEXT)  Lines 10: A perfect limousine is better than a perfect rose? That's what the speaker implies. The limousine symbolizes mobility and technological advancement. Maybe the perfect expression of love has to be something that is more modern or updated than just a flower.
  17. 17. THANK YOU