The two poems, William Blake’s “The Sick Rose” and Dorothy Parker’s “One Perfect Rose”

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The Sick Rose and One Perfect Rose: A Study of Love and Deception

The two poems, William Blake's "The Sick Rose" and Dorothy Parker's "One Perfect Rose," have names that imply both positive and negative connotations of the rose, but their real references are inverted in meaning; they often have a romanticism deception in their titles, which is not the case. They are two love poems with the rose as a sign. While the title of “One Perfect Rose” suggests a happier love, the poem quickly shifts to a sarcastic tone as the lover asks why she is still getting roses. “The Sick Rose” on the other hand is more sinister and dark, and is not a romantic poem, as the title states. The poem represents love turned sour. And Blake symbolizes the destruction of love by affairs and negative facets of desire. Blake’s poem contrasts from Parker's poem because “The Sick Rose” represents the rose as something good and beautiful, portraying its innocence while “One Perfect Rose” rejects the rose as something that is not required or appreciated, expressing Parker’s conflicted relations with men.

The Deceptive Nature of "The Sick Rose"

“The Sick Rose” appears in a collection of short stories by William Blake which could be summarized by the statement looks can be deceiving. The poem is not specifically about a rose that is sick and the flying worm, but its main themes are violence and sex, issues that people are confronted with on television shows and movies. Blake’s poem is aimed at making discussions about love and sex more public, in its twisted way. The flying worm is obliterating the rose with his “dark and secret love,” portraying love as something that ruins things which is different from what people think of love. The oppressed love is obscure and clandestine as opposed to luminous and open.

The Corrupted Symbolism of the Rose

The “Rose” could be a reference to the natural world, purity, and virginity, which has been corrupted by the loose morals of a society living in promiscuity and chaos. It could also represent love and how its sanctity in relationships and marriages has been corrupted. “Sick,” signifies the death and decay of romantic and traditional notions regarding virginity and love in today’s world. Interpreting the poem depends on the analysis of the various themes and what symbolism we place in the rose and the worm. One stand-out theme is mortality as it is about the rose’s death, not just any kind, a bizarre kind of death which is conjoined with love. The pairing of mortality and love implies that death is a more complex matter than one might think, or that there are consequences to something assumed to be indisputably good.

Love, Death, and Sex in "The Sick Rose"

The association also insinuates the juxtaposition of life and death, the sequence of nature. The theme of love is also evident, and the lesson here is that love is not what it seems to be; timeless and cohesive, but secret and dark. There is nothing good it does for the rose, turning out to be a disease that infects the rose and destroys it from the inside. We also learn that love is not all that is required in a relationship, as is the flawed perspective of many people. Sex as a theme is also evident, and while the poem is not outright in its mention, the subtlety is apparent. The bed of crimson joy penetrated by the worm is imagery used by Blake to show the dark and violent vision of sex in the poem. The poem portrays the destructive nature of pairing love and sex and also recommends that sexuality should not be kept a secret but rather should be public.

The Disillusionment of "One Perfect Rose"

“One Perfect Rose” sounds loving and romantic to a reader and just as in Blake’s poem. Dorothy Parker’s poem is depressing and charming at the same time, as she complains that it is constantly her luck to receive one perfect rose, saying that flowers are lovely, regardless they are antique when compared to limousines. Since they met, the man sends the speaker one flower, it seems kind and it “speaks” as well, telling the woman that her fragile leaves encompass the lover's heart. But the woman is still not satisfied, and she asks why no one has ever gifted her a perfect limousine. Parker suggests that while the world has developed and become more modern, the woman is still treated in the same outdated manner, only getting flowers.

The Stereotype of Love and the Desire for Authenticity

It might also be an allegory for her life, which she thought was unfulfilled despite being in Hollywood, and being a literary celebrity, and just like the rose, with all its beauty does not cut it. The woman wants a better gift than what she receives every time from her lover, and that disappointment is the primary reference of the poem. Parker is frustrated with the obvious clichés on love, how lovers always give flowers. She has nothing against the flowers as the intention might be good, and they are heartfelt and cute, but she still thinks it’s ordinary and everybody sends flowers. The speaker is exhausted of the uniformity. She wants love, which is unique and valuable, to be conveyed in new, creative, and exciting ways.

The Critique of Love Rituals and Gender Stereotypes

One theme evident is love, even though the woman is complaining how its rituals have become a stereotype. The man's love is also questioned as the rose's love is called an amulet which is given without much effort or thought. The poem also describes how beautiful natural things do not mean anything anymore, and it is modern things like limousines that will get someone’s attention, the rose's “fragile leaves” also portray the ineffectuality of the deed. The poem also describes the difficulties of being female. Being a woman means she is only entitled to flowers and nothing better, which is a stereotype placed on women, and the poem aims at demystifying that.


In conclusion, the two poems are similar in some way due to how they tackle the expression of love in relationships. They also agree that love depicted by a rose is beautiful but is still unappreciated.

Works Cited

Blake, William. Songs Of Innocence. Courier Corporation, 2013. Print.

Parker, Dorothy. Complete Poems. Penguin Books, 2010. Print.

January 18, 2023



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