The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But the theory now goes
That the apple’s a rose,
And the pear is, and so’s
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only know
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose–
But were always a rose.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem The Rose Family


  1. Amanda says:

    Here’s a quick analysis I wrote for my AP U.S. poetry class on this poem:

    Early American poet Robert Frost was known for using simple diction for complex themes and ironic thoughts. Although his poems were pithy and concise in word choice, he often adhered to traditional metrics and verse forms unlike most his contemporaries. In his poem “The Rose Family”, construction is consistent while thought structure is infused with quiet wit.
    In “The Rose Family”, Frost uses literal examples to derive meaning from a perhaps abstract thought. The poem contemplates the philosophical essence of a rose logically by establishing truth that a rose is a rose and that it always was one to begin with, inquisitively inducts that other fruits are perhaps equal to roses, and deducts from both of these thoughts by stating “You, of course, are a rose”. His thoughts are strictly denotative to the objects he describes, but to whom he refers to remains vague.
    Purpose in “the Rose Family” is veiled and broadened by the poems simplistic approach in style. Very little information about the speaker and addressee can be derived from the poem thus concealing the purpose of the occasion beyond the potential to either charm or sarcastically belittle. Very little emotion is distinctive throughout the verse except a subtle curiosity and satire. The poet turns the purpose of the poem after he ironically contradicts his own logic. In the first two lines, he establishes that a rose is and always was. The next six lines he questions other’s interpretation of a rose but then abruptly drops this logic to establish a curious new truth to the meaning of a rose. The redundant rhyme of the poem also adds a jeering, almost “king’s jester” rhyme like rhythm. These abrupt, forced changes in thought and taunting rhyme promote a purpose to jest the poet’s addressee.
    The poem’s significance is held by it’s deceiving wit. The “safe” or even cliché theme of roses prepares the reader for a verse on beauty and love, but then goes on to undermine this mindset in the most subtle of ways. Simple language and seemingly cheery subject matter obscure the satirical nature of the poem.

  2. Hamid says:

    Robert Frost The Rose Family is twofold : a theory and practice. Whereas, in theory, a rose will remain always a rose and never stands for something else, practice brings a different story. In the figurative sense of the term, rose connotes everything symbolizing beauty (apple, pear, plum and you). I see that this is the implications make the most sense within that poem. Additionally, the images employed in the poem are very concrete, making us experience beauty revealed within The Rose Family vividly. Moreover, beauty employed in the poem calls for our mental pictures, visual images and physical sensations.

  3. jackie says:

    this poem is sheerly about the overuse of anything in life and the detracted meaning that results

    marissa is wrong.

  4. Julie says:

    I just felt like sharing what i learned from an american litterature teacher, according to her, Frost was making fun of an articla that had just been published about the rose being part of the same family as appples, etc, …
    Anyway, i still love it, it sounds great, it makes me feel great,…

  5. Eunise Silva says:

    This has been one of my favorite poems for years. Along with some of the other comments when I read this poem, I felt that Frost was looking beyond the simplicity of a rose. We all look at things differently, a parent looks as their children as a precious gift, I (a teacher) sometimes feel like they are children of the corn. Regardless within each of them or within us, we have some beauty that not everyone get a chance to see. How we see beauty in others is left to the eye of the beholder.

  6. Jordan says:

    I think Frost is one, making fun of the fact we choose to label everything and how the rose is slowly losing it’s meaning because now everything is referred to as a rose, but it’s a direct love poem because as he finishes the poem, he declares that she ‘were always a rose’ which means so much more because she has originality. she was the original rose, the original beauty and all the other roses aren’t even close to her.

  7. Jana says:

    The point of the poem is to contrast the two ideas. The fact is, that the apple, pear, plum, and rose all come from the same family, Roseceae. So they are all roses, in a sense. But you aren’t going to look at an apple (or plum or pear) and say “what a pretty rose!”. He’s saying that people should not confuse something with another thing that it bears a few characteristics of, because it takes away meaning for the original thing. If we all started calling the whole roseceae family “roses”, the word “rose” would lose all of its meaning and connotations of beauty and love.

  8. Maxine Tsvaigrach says:

    I agree with Travis. When I read this poem I was struck by how, as in so many of his poems, Frost plays with the reader and is making a cynical comnent that is not immediately obvious underneath all the sweet talk about roses. Frost is talking about not only words losing their meaning through overly liberal interpretations, but values, too. Everything goes, who knows what’s right, what’s wrong, nothing is absolute. In a way he’s criticizing political correctness 70 years before his time.

  9. haley says:

    I love reading this poem!It tells me that we always look at ourselves as less than a rose, and then it reminds me that i am a rose and i am beautiful just the way i am as my own rose! Thank you for reminding me of this Mr. FROST

  10. Brianne says:

    I loved this poem i thought it was amazing

  11. courtney says:

    well….i like it and if you have a problem deal with it im ALWAYS a ROSE! 🙂

  12. Jill says:

    I think Frost was commenting on how we label things as we want to, as we see them at a specific point in time. Especially ourselves, what we identify ourselves as. Then he reminds us that we are precious in the end…”were always a rose.”

  13. John says:

    The apple, along with other fruits and berries, and many trees and shrubs are in the rose family. He could also be referring to the grail line which is also called the “rose line”.

  14. Damon says:

    I believe this poem is simply the first person complimenting the second, by comparison to the beauty of a rose. In doing so, the first acknowledges that so much in life is compared to a simle, beautiful flower. The tone is sarcastic as Frost describes how everything seems to be a rose. Finally, the compliment is paid, “You are a rose…”

  15. wesley says:

    what element of poetry is the rose family

  16. Anna says:

    I believe that Frost’s “The Rose Family” reveals the concept of equality. He is saying that, whether we be an apple, a pear or a plum, we are all roses in the end. We are all created equally, and even though we may look different, we are all as beautiful and as valuble as a rose… =)

  17. Christina says:

    “A rose is a rose and always was a rose” means things are what they are
    “the apple’s a rose, And the pear…” means that things are actually what you make them, no one knows what a rose really is until someone tells them, therefore an apple can be a rose, or a pear, or a plum.
    This poem is derived from gertrude steins “Sacred Emliy”

  18. Travis says:

    Hi friends,
    Like many of Frost’s poems, there is a very pretty exterior. It’s quite genius given that he is most of the time criticizing something underneath. For example (and there are many of his famous poems that are like this), this wonderful poem is about words/ideas/concepts, not beauty itself. It’s a comment on how words or ideas (like beauty, love, etc.) can be applied so liberally that they lose their meaning. This makes the last clause sarcastic — an empty complement to prove his point.

  19. Marissa says:

    I think that the speaker of this poem is saying that beauty is skin deep. That it doesn’t matter what you look like, an apple or a plum, you are beautiful (a rose) no matter what.

  20. Kelly D. says:

    I think that this poem represents the simple things in like that we get too busy to reconize then things get more complicated. The rose is a rose but if things get too hecktic then the rose may appear to be an apple or a plum. But life is what we make of it. so let it be simple once in a while…

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