Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Roses Only

You do not seem to realise that beauty is a liability rather than
   an asset—that in view of the fact that spirit creates form we are justified in supposing
     that you must have brains. For you, a symbol of the unit, stiff and sharp,
   conscious of surpassing by dint of native superiority and liking for everything
self-dependent, anything an

ambitious civilisation might produce: for you, unaided to attempt through sheer
   reserve, to confute presumptions resulting from observation, is idle. You cannot make us
     think you a delightful happen-so. But rose, if you are brilliant, it
   is not because your petals are the without-which-nothing of pre-eminence. You would look, minus
thorns—like a what-is-this, a mere

peculiarity. They are not proof against a worm, the elements, or mildew
   but what about the predatory hand? What is brilliance without co-ordination? Guarding the
     infinitesimal pieces of your mind, compelling audience to
   the remark that it is better to be forgotten than to be remembered too violently,
your thorns are the best part of you.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“Roses Only” was published in Poems (Egoist Press, 1921)

Author


Marianne Moore

Born in 1887, Marianne Moore wrote with the freedom characteristic of the other Modernist poets, often incorporating quotes from other sources into the text, yet her use of language was always extraordinarily condensed and precise

Date Published: 1921-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/roses-only