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Roses Are Red

"Roses Are Red" can refer to a specific poem, or a class of poems inspired by that poem. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19798. It is most commonly used as a love poem.

Origins

The origins of the poem may be traced at least as far back as to the following lines written in 1590 by Sir  Edmund Spenser from his epic The Faerie Queene (Book Three, Canto 6, Stanza 6):A nursery rhyme significantly closer to the modern cliché Valentine's Day poem can be found in Gammer Gurton's Garland, a 1784 collection of English nursery rhymes:Victor Hugo was likely familiar with Spenser, but may not have known the English nursery rhyme when, in 1862, he published the novel Les Misérables. Hugo was a poet as well as a novelist, and within the text of the novel are many songs. One sung by the character Fantine contains this refrain, in the 1862 English translation:This translation replaces the original version's cornflowers ("bleuets") with violets, and makes the roses red rather than pink, effectively making the song closer to the English nursery rhyme. The last two lines in the original French are:(Les Misérables, Fantine, Book Seven, Chapter Six)

Folklore

Numerous satirical versions have long circulated in children's lore. Among them:Country music singer Roger Miller parodied the poem in a verse of his 1964 hit "Dang Me":The Marx Brothers' film Horse Feathers has Chico Marx describing the symptoms of cirrhosis thus:Benny Hill version: