Analysis of One Perfect Rose

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In her poem “One Perfect Rose,” Dorothy Parker misleads the reader throughout the first and second stanzas into believing this poem is a romantic tribute to a tender moment from her past through her word choice and style of writing. However, the tone of the entire poem dramatically changes upon reading the third and final stanza when Parker allows the reader to understand her true intention of the poem, which is a cynical and perhaps bewildered view of the memory. And, with this shift in the tone in the third stanza, there is a shift in the meaning of the entire poem, leading the reader to believe that the first two stanzas were not, in fact, sweet but instead a sarcastic and bitter account of this past moment. In the first stanza, Dorothy Parker uses specific words to create a double meaning. She uses words like “tenderly,” “pure,” and “perfect” to describe both the rose and it’s sender. The words directly influence the reader’s initial reaction to the poem, as does the way in which she writes the poem. The stanza has four lines with every other line rhyming (ABAB format). It is short and sweet with a melodic quality in it’s reading. This musical quality definitely helps to lull the reader into the belief that the poem’s intention is to come across as a romantic recollection. However, in reading the poem through a second time, equipped with the knowledge of it’s true bitter notions, the reader sees what is purposely hidden but directly affects the overall tone. Parker mentions first and foremost the fact that this gentleman sent her “a single flow’r” and ends the stanza with the phrase “one perfect rose.” There is a repetition here that at first the reader passes off as her noting the delicacy of the solitary flower. Upon reading the last stanza, it is realized that she is actually pointing out the fact that the only thing she received was one flower-that’s it. And, although there is a melodic quality to the rhythm to this poem, this rhythm accentuates the...
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