'A Dead Rose' by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry Analysis: A Dead Rose by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Are you a fan of romantic poetry? Do you enjoy reading about the beauty and tragedy of love? If so, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "A Dead Rose" is a must-read for you. In this poem, Browning explores the theme of lost love and the pain it can bring.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prominent figure in the Victorian era of English literature. She was born in 1806 in County Durham, England, and began writing at an early age. Her most famous work is probably "Sonnet 43," which begins with the famous line, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Browning's poetry often dealt with themes of love, loss, and spirituality. She was a deeply religious person and incorporated her faith into many of her poems.

"A Dead Rose" was published in 1838, when Browning was still a relatively unknown poet. It was later included in her collection "The Seraphim and Other Poems" in 1838.


The poem begins with the speaker lamenting the death of a rose. She describes the rose as "pale" and "cold," suggesting that it has lost its beauty and vitality.

The rose is symbolic of the speaker's lost love. Just as the rose has withered and died, so too has the speaker's love. The use of the rose as a symbol is typical of romantic poetry, which often employs natural imagery to represent human emotions.

The speaker then reflects on the time when the rose was in bloom. She remembers how it used to be "rich in joy" and how its "scent was sweet." This serves as a reminder of the happiness she once felt in her relationship.

But now that the rose is dead, the speaker is left with nothing but memories. She says that the rose's death has left her "bereft" and that she is "faint with love and grief." This suggests that the loss of her love has left her emotionally drained and unable to cope.

The final lines of the poem are particularly poignant. The speaker says that even though the rose is dead, its memory will live on. She vows to "keep some pale rose leaves" as a reminder of what once was.

This suggests that while the loss of her love has been painful, she is determined to hold onto the memories and find some comfort in them. The use of the word "pale" here is interesting, as it suggests that the memories are not as vibrant as they once were. However, they are still valuable to the speaker as a way of holding onto the past.


"A Dead Rose" is a powerful poem that explores the pain of lost love. The use of the rose as a symbol is particularly effective, as it conveys both the beauty and tragedy of love.

The poem also highlights the importance of memories. While the loss of love can be devastating, memories can provide some comfort and serve as a way of holding onto what once was.

Overall, "A Dead Rose" is a poignant and beautifully written poem that will resonate with anyone who has experienced the pain of lost love. It is a testament to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's skill as a poet and her ability to convey complex emotions through simple imagery.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has the power to evoke emotions and touch the hearts of its readers. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "A Dead Rose" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This classic poem is a beautiful and poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of life and love.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a dead rose that she has kept as a memento of a past love. The rose, once vibrant and full of life, has now withered and died, just like the love that it represents. The speaker laments the passing of time and the inevitability of death, both for the rose and for all living things.

The use of imagery in this poem is particularly striking. The dead rose is described in vivid detail, with its "crimson leaves" and "fragrant breath" now gone. The contrast between the rose's former beauty and its current state of decay is a powerful reminder of the transience of life. The speaker also uses the image of the rose to represent her own feelings of loss and sadness, as she mourns the passing of her love.

The poem's structure is also noteworthy. It is written in four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, which gives the poem a sense of symmetry and balance. This structure is fitting for a poem that deals with themes of life and death, as it reflects the cyclical nature of existence.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is its use of language. Browning's writing is both beautiful and haunting, with lines like "And all my life becomes a dreary mist" and "The dust upon its beauty lies." The use of personification, ascribing human qualities to the rose, also adds to the poem's emotional impact. The rose becomes a symbol of the speaker's own mortality, as well as a reminder of the impermanence of all things.

The poem's title, "A Dead Rose," is also significant. It is a simple and straightforward description of the subject matter, but it also carries a deeper meaning. The word "dead" implies finality and irrevocability, suggesting that the love that the rose represents is truly gone. The use of the definite article "a" also adds to this sense of finality, as if there is only one dead rose in the world, and it belongs to the speaker.

Overall, "A Dead Rose" is a beautiful and moving poem that speaks to the universal human experience of love and loss. Browning's use of imagery, language, and structure all contribute to the poem's emotional impact. It is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the fleeting moments of life and turn them into something timeless and enduring.

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