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One Perfect Rose Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

“One Perfect Rose” is written in three stanzas of four lines each, rhyming abab. The title is also the refrain repeated as the last line of each stanza, having four syllables instead of the iambic pentameter in each of the other lines. The opening two stanzas describe the “one perfect rose” the speaker’s love has sent with all the standard romantic clichés and attitudes: He sent it “tenderly” and is “deep-hearted” and uses the poetic language of the flower shop in its note to express his love. In the context of the last stanza, in which the speaker wonders why she has never received “one perfect limosine” as a token of love, the refrain of “one perfect rose” changes from a thing initially desired—an object or “charm” symbolizing her lover’s heart in a romantic personification and using slightly archaic and formal language (“single flow’r”)—-to an undesirable thing, an impractical, nonmaterial, disdained thing. The sarcasm and sigh (“Ah no, it’s always just my luck”) and the mocking repetition of the “one perfect” formula indicate the switch to the hidden attitude of the last stanza, in direct contrast to that of the opening romantic haze, which is also underscored by the colloquial language (“do you suppose” and “just my luck”).


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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