Department of English

Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University


Go, Lovely Rose



Edmund Waller

(March 3, 1606 – October 21, 1687)


Go, lovely Rose!

Tell her that wastes her time and me

That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,

How sweet and fair she seems to be.
Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died. 10
Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired;
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired. 15
Then die! that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair! 20



G. Thorn Drury states in the preface to his edition of Waller's poems "I have adopted, as far as practicable, the text of the edition of 1686, the last published during the poet's life. The poem text above follows Drury's edition.

resemble: compare







(c. 38 to 41 – c. 102 to 104)


I, felix rosa, mollibusque sertis

nostri cinge comas Apollinaris;

quas tu nectere candidas, sed olim,
sic te semper aet Venus, memento.

Go, lucky rose, and with a soft garland circle the hairs of my dear Apollinaris. And when those hairs are grey (long hereafter), remember to bind them still. So may Venus always love you.



To Celia


Ben Jonson

(1573 – 1637)


Drink to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine;.

Or leave a kiss but in the cup
And I'll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee 10
As giving it a hope that there
It could not wither'd be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, 15
Not of itself but thee!



To the Rose


Robert Herrick

(1591 – 1674)


Goe, happy Rose, and interwove

With other flowers, bind my love.

Tell her, too, she must not be,
Longer flowing, longer free,

That so oft has fettered me.
Say, if she's fretful, I have bands
Of pearl and gold, to bind her hands;
Tell her, if she struggle still,
I have myrtle rods at will,
For to tame, though not to kill. 10
Take thou my blessing thus, and goe
And tell her this, but doe not so,
Lest a handsome anger flye
Like a lightening from her eye,
And burn thee up, as well as I. 15





Study Questions

  • To whom is the speaker speaking?

  • What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?

  • What is the meter?

  • How does the rose communicate to the girl in each stanza? In what manner does the speaker entreat and suggest the rose convey his messages to her?
  • Imagine the girl's actions and reactions at each stanzaic injunction. What does the speaker anticipate she thinks and feels that might have prompted each responsive message?
  • This lyric was set to music very soon after it was written. Since then many composers have given their versions of the song. Listen to some of the performances below and notice how different musical versions and performers dramatize the story of the poem in response to different cues in the text.
  • From the speaker's comparisons throughout the song, how is the girl like a rose and how not?
  • The witty, unusual conceit characteristic of seventeenth century love poetry is evident here in Waller's song. Note that "[b]y 1600 the term as still being used as a synonym for 'thought' and as roughly equivalent to 'concept,' 'idea' and 'conception.' It might also then denote a fanciful supposition, an ingenious act of deception, or a witty or clever remark or idea. As a literary term this word has come to denote a fairly elaborate figurative device of a fanciful kind which often incorporates metaphor, simile, hyperbole or oxymoron and which is intended to surprise and delight by its wit and ingenuity" (Crawford). Waller's brilliance is not so much in having the rose as love messenger (which as you can see from several other poems above is quite common), but in how he uses the rose. Compare the rose conceit between the poems. In what way does Waller make his poem different from others' despite the overtaxed rose?






Sample Student Responses to Waller's "Go, Lovely Rose"

Response 1:






Student Name

2202234 Introduction to the Study of English Literature

Acharn Puckpan Tipayamontri

June 3, 2009

Reading Response #1













Response 2:

Student Name

2202234 Introduction to the Study of English Literature

Acharn Puckpan Tipayamontri

September 6, 2011

Reading Response #1



<Text of reading response>








  • Conceit, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Conceit, Poetry Definitions
  • Conceit, Literary Terms and Definitions
  • Conceit, Dictionary of Literary Terms
Carpe Diem
Metaphysical Poets and Poetry



  • Bryn Terfel, "Go, Lovely Rose," Silent Noon (2005; 2:45 min.; arranged by Roger Quilter)

  • Brian Neff, "Go, Lovely Rose" (2011; arranged by Roger Quilter)

  • Go, Lovely Rose (2006; video clip, 2:41 min.; arranged by Henry Lawes; soprano: Belinda Yates; Waller's 400th birthday anniversary celebration)


Edmund Waller




Waller, Edmund. "Go, lovely Rose!" The Poems of Edmund Waller. Ed. G. Thorn Drury. London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1893. 128.


Further Reading

Hollander, John, ed. Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize. New York: Academy of American Poets, 1996. Print.


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Last updated October 5, 2014