Comparative Poetry Essay
In this essay, I shall be comparing the poems “The Sick Rose” by William Blake and “One Perfect Rose” by Dorothy Parker. Both are short pieces that darkly subvert classical romantic imagery, particularly signifying the word “rose” in both poems.
In the poem, “The Sick Rose”, Blake addresses “rose” in the first line, “O Rose thou art sick.”(1) and laments that the rose’s “bed / Of crimson joy”(5-6) has been defined by an “invisible worm,”(2) particularly by its “dark, secret love.”(7) A love that is dark and secret would imply a sinful, sexual nature or act that is done violently as is portrayed in “In the howling storm:”(4) and destroys the rose’s life “Does thy life destroy.”(8)
The imagery of “secret love” is taking place in a “bed” and the phallic shape of a “worm” searching for “crimson joy” (the “crimson” defines the color red which is often synonymous with both sin and passion) all create the symbolism of the rose as a woman beauty and purity and the worm as a man respectively, and specifically that the rose has been defiled by an act of sin on the part of the worm. In short, the rose is a metaphor for feminine purity, and the poem is a sad reflection on when that purity is made tainted by sinful deeds and leads to her corruption and death.
Even though the language of the poem “The Sick Rose” is simple, it has a deeper meaning and can be interpreted in different, attributed by its use of words and their various meaning in the context. For instance, the word “rose” may be interpreted as a symbol of love or beauty and the word “worm” may be illuminated as a man’s phallus, by referring to the pronoun “his” in “And his dark secret love “(7) which addresses the worm as a masculine figure. “Worm” may also simply represent a cunning character aiming to shame and humiliate the “rose”. The word “sick” (1) may also have various meanings such as pale or weak, but it can also imply corruption through sin or perhaps a secret love that may be interpreted as forbidden lust.
The poem “The Sick Rose” contains two stanzas with four lines with an ABCB rhyme scheme. The first line of the poem contains monosyllables which give it a sympathetic tone. The rhymes “worm” in the second and “storm” in the fourth lines instill a sense of fear. There is only one period (punctuation) in the poem which may emphasize the uninterrupted action of corruption and destruction of the “rose” that begins from the sickness of the rose in the first line of the poem and ends with its destruction in the last line.
By contrast, in the poem “One Perfect Rose”, Parker utilizes the word “rose” in the final line of his poem’s stanzas and, using sarcastic language, undercuts its romantic convention. In the poem’s final stanza, the narrator laments not the blemished purity in “The Sick Rose” but rather laments not being given “One perfect limousine.” (10) The narrator is dissatisfied with the fact that, rather than a more substantial gift, “it’s always just [her]...