Rose Symbolism

Symbolism of Rose in Literature

Rose is the most used flower in literature. Rose as symbolism in literature can be seen extensively in artworks, both medieval and contemporary, where royal men or women hold a rose to represent love as well as pride. While the rose is mostly associated with love and beauty, it also has dark symbolisms such as death and trouble if used alongside thorns or fallen rose petals. The name ‘Rose or Rosa’ is a common name given to female children to symbolize love and innocence. The meaning of the rose also changes according to the color. Rose in literature is famously quoted from the play Romeo and Juliet ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose; By any other name, would smell as sweet.’ Here, Juliet wishes that Romeo was loved by her family as a person and not treated as an enemy. The name ‘rose’ is derived from the Latin word ‘rosa’, and from most European languages, including ‘roza’ in Russian, ‘ros’ in Irish, ‘rhosyn’ in Welsh, and rooted in the word ‘rose’ from Italian and Greek word ‘rhodon’ which means rose.


Red Rose

The Red rose symbolizes an unchanging and everlasting true love. Also, 24 red roses mean that a person is thinking of you 24 hours a day. In the 18th century, the red rose was used to share secrets between two lovers to maintain the secrecy of their love or affair from society. A bright red rose symbolizes bravery and courage. The dark red rose is a symbol of farewell or goodbye. A thornless red rose symbolizes love at first sight. In the 15th century, the red rose was declared England’s national flower, and it symbolized victory. According to ancient Greek mythology, a red rose is a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Japanese consider red roses as a symbol of romance, love, and passion. In Italy, the red rose represents love and passion.

Black Rose

In Ancient Greece and Roman culture black rose symbolized strength and power. According to German Nazism Black rose was used to represent victory over the traitors and safety. The black rose represents mystery, danger, and death in pop culture. Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea, consider the black rose as a symbol of death and mourning. In Indian culture, the black rose symbolizes good luck and achievement. South Africans consider the black rose as a remembrance of the War of the Boers. In Spain, people believe the black rose is associated with death and is a symbol of lost love.

White Rose

In Christianity, the white rose represents the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is called a mystical rose of heaven. According to Quran, the white rose is a symbol of paradise. In the Victorian era, white roses were used as gifts. White roses represent spiritual enlightenment and purity in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. As per Japanese beliefs, a white rose symbolizes silence, devotion, and innocence. In the United Kingdom, a white rose is a symbol of beauty and purity.

Yellow Rose

If a person gives a yellow rose, it means a wish for joy and friendship. According to Christianity, the yellow rose symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and wisdom. The yellow rose is also a symbol of strength and courage in Japan. Also, in South American culture, the yellow rose represents death. The yellow rose symbolizes friendship and optimism in Western cultures.

Pink Rose

Pink roses symbolize grace, joy, and gratitude. Dark pink roses are considered a symbol of gratitude and appreciation in both Eastern and Western cultures. Light pink roses symbolize gentleness and admiration. The thornless pink rose means it is love at first sight. In Jerusalem, pink roses symbolize the journey. The pink rose is a symbol of romance as per the mythology of the Roman culture. In Christianity, pink roses represent the blood of Christ. North Dakota and Iowa consider the prairie rose as their national flower, which is a dusty pink rose. In Maldives pink rose is known as Rosa polyantha and is the national flower of the country.


The yellow rose symbolizes friendship and joy in both ancient and contemporary culture. In pop culture, pink roses are symbol gratitude, grace, admiration, and joy. Also, as the rose is a versatile and magical herb, according to Arabian and Middle Eastern beliefs, it is considered as happiness at home. Roses are also symbols of beauty and charm and are related to children’s innocence and happiness.


The red rose symbolizes love universally. The rose is considered a symbol of love and has been exchanged by people who want to proclaim their love on St. Valentine’s Day since the 14th Century. In ancient Greek mythology, Aphrodite is associated with a rose, and it symbolizes love. Romans believe white and red roses represent Venus, the goddess of love. According to pop culture rose is a symbol of love and is used in most art forms, including films. Koreans celebrate rose day on May 14th and exchange fresh roses to symbolize love. The Spanish celebrate ‘El Dia de la Rosa’ or ‘The Day of the Rose’ on April 23rd by giving roses to one another. Also, the Japanese consider red roses as a powerful symbol of romance, love, and passion. According to Hindu mythology, roses are also symbols of love, romance, and devotion because lord Vishnu loves his wife, Lakshmi, and compares her beauty with the rose.


National peace rose day is celebrated on 29th April every year since 1945 and was given to the first UN delegates. It was done to symbolize world peace and was introduced by a French horticulturist, Francis Meilland. The peace rose is called Glory Dei in Germany, and it represents the glory of God. According to pop culture, the white rose symbolizes peace, love, and friendship. In India, the pink rose represents as peace and gratitude.


Dreaming of a bouquet of pink roses represents the joy and abundance in life. A field of pink roses in a dream symbolizes a beautiful future. The red rose in a dream also symbolizes passion and love. The White rose represents the renewal of life. Dreaming of a pink flower brings good news to a person’s love life. If a person dreams about white and red roses, it represents passion. When he or she dreams of roses with thorns, it means a warning to choose the right path for the future.

Examples of Rose as Symbolism in Literature

Example #1

Rose By Kathleen Raine

Gather while you may breath of air
Vapour of water, dust of earth, rose
of air water and light that comes and goes.
Over and over again the rose is woven.

In this example, rose is a symbol of humility and transformation.

Example #2


‘O words are lightly spoken,’
Said Pearse to Connolly,
‘Maybe a breath of politic words
Has withered our Rose Tree;
Or maybe but a wind that blows
Across the bitter sea.’

‘It needs to be but watered,’
James Connolly replied,
‘To make the green come out again
And spread on every side,
And shake the blossom from the bud
To be the garden’s pride.’

In this poem, the poet is using rose as a metaphor for kindness or kind words. Here, rose is a symbol of politeness and effort.

Example #3

Rose Thorns By Molly Mcquade

Why do roses need their thorns?
Some things are little known.
But thorns of roses
spring and seize the surface
of  fey airs
before the roses come.
I’ve seen thorns huddle in a harmony alone,
hunkered down on green, wiry canes,
smoothed blades of whipping rose stalks,
and curl their polished tridents
to night’s call.

Here the roses are symbols of strength and personal growth of a person amidst struggles.

Example #4

Throw Roses By Carl Sandburg

Throw roses on the sea where the dead went down.
The roses speak to the sea,
And the sea to the dead.
Throw roses, O Lovers
Let the leave wash on the salt in the sun.

In this example, the roses are a symbol of the messenger as the flowers can be used to express our love or grief.

Example #5

Quote By Matshona Dhliwayo

The more you love roses, the more you must bear with thorns.

In this quote, roses are a symbol of patience and acceptance.

Example #6

Rocks Into Roses: Life Lessons and Inspiration for Personal Growth By Christine Evangelou

Just like the rose holds her beauty among the thorns- we can gather our strength from the most unlikely places.

In this example, the rose symbolizes resilience and power.

Example #7

Lead Us To A Place: Your Spiritual Journey Through Life’s Seasons By Andrew Pacholyk

The gentle rose offers a powerful joy known only to the heart.”

Here, the rose is a symbol of happiness and kindness.

Example #8

Woman of Virtue: Power-Filled Quotes for a Powerful Woman By Gift Gugu Mona

Dear Superwoman, remember that a rose does not stop looking beautiful, because of the thorns around it. So, never allow weaknesses to stop you from admiring your own strengths.”

In this example directed toward female empowerment, roses are symbols of beauty, acceptance, and strength.

Example #9

Love and Friendship By Emily Brontë

Love is like the wild rose-briar;
Friendship like the holly-tree.
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms,
but which will bloom most constantly?”

In this example, the poet is comparing loving and friendship with rose-briar and holly-tree, respectively. Here the rose represents unlimited love and restlessness.