A Rose by Any Other Color . . .

Monday, February 13, 2006

You may not notice that the most popular poem in history begins with a distortion. Roses aren't necessarily red; they can be white, pink or yellow. And when they age, the petals wrinkle into brown before they turn sere and fall. Don't think of this transience (the present tense throughout tries to hide the future from view), or of those other varieties, or of the thorns that accompany the flowers. Think only of ardent red.

These roses are plural, and come packaged with plural R's -- Roses are red . And "are" sounds like "our." Are the plurals subliminal persuasion?

The second line uses another distortion. Violets of course are not truly blue, they are violet. The poet insists on blue for the sake of the rhyme he wants mightily to make with "you."

By the third line he has grown impatient. He doesn't bother to concoct a rhyme with "red." Abandoning the plurals, he reveals something about himself. For singular Sugar is sweet leads directly to a selfish "I," placed ahead of "you."

And I love you .

I really do. Here, have a chocolate.

-- Michael Stuntz

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