Say it with a rose | india | Hindustan Times
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Say it with a rose

The rose has been a symbol of romance and love and has figured in literature and poetry everywhere, writes Annie Datta in From the Varsity.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2005 18:47 IST

I had always identified the rose with India. The subcontinent is surfeited with associations to this flower and its applications in daily life. News coverage on the electronic media of the Rose festival in Bulgaria came as a delightful surprise. There is sufficient reason for such celebration as research indicates that rose and its products play a key economic role in this East European country where its history goes back to a remote past. The celebrations gain a cultural depth as they come at the beginning of the rose harvesting period.

The image of rose has accompanied me throughout my student days beginning with motifs of roses on the cover of notebooks in grade I of school to metaphors and conceits in poetry at the university level. Rose often occurred as standard example in classes of philosophy when its particular fragrance was analytically linked to its essence.

The rose has been a symbol of romance and love and has figured in literature and poetry everywhere, India included. Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, expressed his love as being like a red, red rose. The Irish poet WB Yeats had a whole series of poems of his earlier romantic phase under the heading “The Rose.” As the poet matured his poems grew more dramatic and found inclusion under “The Winding Stairs and The Tower”. As a student of literature, one came across a lasting heritage of impressions around the flower. Shakespeare did not lag behind in its usage in his sonnets. The bard was also wary of the deception behind appearances as in the advice Lady Macbeth renders to Macbeth when his murderous intentions are all too clear. He is advised to look innocent as a flower despite his evil intent.

“Your face, my thane, is as a book where men, / May read strange matters. To beguile the time, / Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, / Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under’t”.

Normally a rose is a communicative vehicle to express one’s love. A red rose as such is the most commonly exchanged between youngsters be it the East or the West. A single rose may win a young person a friend or a dance partner in a pub or a discotheque. A rose can be an index of a sign language wherein a red rose indicates love while yellow rose stands for friendship and black for death. Damascene rose which is popular in Bulgaria is identified with a beautiful girl and this is the only variety fondly indulged in. It has a secret meaning of brilliant complexion. The face of the rose queen could thus be easily montaged with the flower.

There is such mystique of attraction in the rose flower that a particular variety of rose is christened after the charismatic John F Kennedy. India’s late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wore the flower on his person and became linked in memory with its magical charm. Architectural marvels like the Eiffel Tower have also lent their name to a particular variety of the rose.

The anatomy, the physiology and the fragrance of the rose make it unique among flowers. The famous American poetess Gertrude Stein lent the rose its ‘being’ by going circular about its ‘is-ness’ when she uttered the line: a rose is a rose is a rose.