What is the irony in the poem "One Perfect Rose"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Dorothy Parker's surprisingly humorous poem, "One Perfect Rose," exemplifies verbal irony; for, the apparent meaning of her verse is the opposite of the intended meaning. In the first two stanzas, for instance, the poem reads much like a typically romantic verse. The single "perfect" rose sent to her is beautiful and delicate, with a loving message,

Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet--....

        "My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."

However, the last stanza's tone is greatly altered from that of the previous stanzas as it is of biting irony, bordering upon sarcasm,

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
      One perfect limousine, do you suppose?

The poet mocks the idea of giving one rose. While it may be romantic, Parker implies, it is inexpensive, too. She bemoans, "it's always just my luck to get/One perfect rose." This colloquial language, the mocking repetition of the "perfect rose," as well as the sigh ("Ah, me") create the sarcasm directed toward the repeated gift of a single rose and its supposedly romantic message.

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Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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Throughout the poem the author hides her cynical side by taking the optimistic approach. This is evident in her diction with words such as "tender" and "fragile". In the beginning the tone is positive and sweet. However, at the end she makes her cynicism clear by asking why doesn't she get a limousine. The tone changes to bitterness. That change in tone and outward cynicism marks the irony.

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