"Go, Lovely Rose!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The poet sends a beautiful rose to his love, instructing the rose to tell the lady that she wastes both her time and the poet's very existence by being coy and retiring. But she can learn how highly he thinks of her when he compares her to the rose. The lady is young and so modest that she is reluctant to have her charms admired by the public; if the rose had bloomed all by itself in the desert, it would die completely unappreciated by anyone. Beauty that is never seen is worthless, as its only value lies in being seen. Therefore the young lady should allow herself to be admired. The poet then tells the rose to die so that the young lady can see what is the common fate of beautiful things. They be wonderfully sweet and fair, but they can live only a little while. This poem treats a theme popular with English poets, that of the ephemeral quality of life, beauty, and love, with the inference that life should be fully lived while it is still possible to do so. Waller's first stanza is:

Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.