Bukowski and the Rose

I'm a huge fan of Buk's poetry, and one of the symbols I see most used most often is the rose. A very ironic symbol for him to be using, since the last thing he stands for is purity and beauty, but I love how he still uses it. So here's my request: I'm looking for any poems that have to deal with the rose, or mention the rose. I already have a few like "Hooray say the Roses" (my favorite), "In the Shadow of the Rose", and "The Poet". Anyone else have any good ones/want to discuss this symbol? <3
 

HenryChinaski

Founding member
Over 1000 posts
there's also that famous quote by Buk that just happens to be one of my favorites.

"I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead."
-Charles Bukowski
 

bright

Over 100 posts
well,buks father also loved roses and had them around the house...maybe it was the light of hanks childhood.
..certainly not the lawn.
Did he ever move the lawn again when he left home?
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
Over 5000 posts
in one of the Bukowski Tapes segments, he's going on about the human race, and how he doesn't like it..."I don't like their dogs or their cats or their roses." a scoff at the suburban ideal?
 

bright

Over 100 posts
"I do not like the human race"
maybe he means most human beings rot what they touch....cause he certainly loved cats,animals and nature in general.
Just, without humans.
Maybe its about purity.
Something thats "aligned to do, exactly what it wants to do."
 

the only good poet

One retreat after another without peace.
Over 500 posts
welcome, there's "Rose, Rose" from the roominghouse madrigals (p.247). also, the last poem from that volume begins, "a rose/red sunlight;" and just flicking through i found another reference, from the poem "Dow Jones: Down" (p.209), "how can we talk about roses/or verlaine?"

in one of the Bukowski Tapes segments, he's going on about the human race, and how he doesn't like it..."I don't like their dogs or their cats or their roses." a scoff at the suburban ideal?
by the end of that list, i got the feeling he was sending himself up. he never took himself too seriously. his use of poeticisms in his early poetry was ironic. he did garden: there's a poem in septuagenrian stew that has him weeding! that gave me a kick since i'm a maintenance gardener. i wonder, did he prune his own fruit trees? i seem to recall a poem in you get so alone that he writes about two fellows working on his house - the idea of which is amusing; and in the same volume (i believe), when asked if he is the poet cb, he denies it and replies that he is a "gardener for some rich people."
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Over 5000 posts
Looks like he was into roses (in the poems at least) and gardens - just like his "dear" old papa...:D
 

1fsh2fsh

I think that I think too much
Founding member
Over 500 posts
buk mentions roses in a couple of poems in "what matters most" in "sometimes even putting a nickel into a parking meter feels good-"... " I'd rather grow roses than nurture self pity" ... and in "the crunch(2)"... "and the beads swing and the clouds obscure and the dogs piss upon the rose bushes".....
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
I ran across this in Hot Water Music while eating my oatmeal: from "In and Out and Over" -- "The moon stood up, the house smelled of lint and roses, the dog leaped upon me."
 
Hey, oddly enough your initial question is one that I was curious about as well. I am very intrigued by his use of the rose because of it's representation of beauty and purity. I have one Buk tattoo on the inside of my arm, it's an excerpt from his poem "Finished?" I have an appointment soon to get something else done on my chest and continuing onto my shoulder. I want to get roses, a couple of which will be red, while others are shaded black and few not filled in at all. I started considering a quote to go with it and because of my love for Buk i couldn't help but to consider him.

However, as you have all made evident he does not speak of the flower very often. After the question in the first post however, You speak of "In the Shadow of the Rose", and "The Poet". I know of every other rose reference that has been referred to in this forum so far. But pertaining to those two, I can not find them online anywhere. I' know that "In the shadow of the rose" is a book so i assume that "the poet" is one as well. My question, is can any of you enlighten me on the specific quotes in either book where he refers to the rose? i can not find them online anywhere.
 
when i attempt to find them using the "search for Poems" option it only lets me view a select few of the poems from the entire bunch. For the rest it simply allows me to see what book they are from, not the actual poems themselves
 

Dora

Over 100 posts
"A very ironic symbol for him to be using, since the last thing he stands for is purity and beauty, but I love how he still uses it."
I don't really agree with this. I rather think that he's got a bleak vision of humanity, and, even if he seldom mentions it, that he longs for genuine "purity", or "innocence", or whatever you may want to call it. Just look at ANY reference to his beloved daughter. Also, in "Ham on Rye" he depicts a cat that was thrown to a dog as "pure and white", and pities him as an innocent victim of human brutality.

As for the symbol of the rose, Bukowski does use lots of references to flowers, but they don't just stand for beauty. They seem much more ambiguous. In the collection "Burning in Water, Downing in Flame" (the one I know best so far) they are also deadly and there are almost cannibalistic undertones. In "the Flower Lover" the flower cuts the poet in pieces, and is still seen as beautiful. In "hooray say the roses", the latter are clearly related to blood and violence- I'll just quote the first lines:
hooray say the roses, today is blamesday
and we are red as blood.
hooray say the roses, today is Wednesday
and we bloom where soldiers fell,
and lovers too,
and the snake ate the word.

I used to think it was because roses have thorns, but that sounds too easy an explanation. In any case, flowers are indeed interesting symbols in the context of Buk's poetry.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
Over 1000 posts
when i attempt to find them using the "search for Poems" option it only lets me view a select few of the poems from the entire bunch. For the rest it simply allows me to see what book they are from, not the actual poems themselves
If your not interested in the books what the hell are you doing here?
If you don't want to buy them just borrow them at a library.
Yeah.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Over 5000 posts
when i attempt to find them using the "search for Poems" option it only lets me view a select few of the poems from the entire bunch. For the rest it simply allows me to see what book they are from, not the actual poems themselves
Of course, you can't get to read all the poems, since the books are copyrighted by the publisher (Black Sparrow Press/Ecco).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
touche

and i am interested in the books Erik, no need to get grouchy.. Im new to the forum I just didn't understand how it worked
 

Stavrogin

Over 1000 posts
If your not interested in the books what the hell are you doing here?
Sign of the times, Erik. Books for free, music for free, movies/tv shows for free, etc. I spend a small fortune on the prior listed and I know many a clever devil who get theirs for free (or seek it out till the eyes strain). Perhaps I'm the dumb one for paying my way.
 

d gray

tried to do his best but could not
Founding member
Over 1000 posts
from "the weather is hot on the back of my watch" -

and who is to say the rose is greater than the thorn?
not I, Henry,
 

Black Swan

Abord the Yorikke!
Over 1000 posts
Sign of the times, Erik. Books for free, music for free, movies/tv shows for free, etc. I spend a small fortune on the prior listed and I know many a clever devil who get theirs for free (or seek it out till the eyes strain). Perhaps I'm the dumb one for paying my way.
We might all instantly fry in our favourite chair, some plush chairs paid for, and some bought on credit! :wb:
 

David

Over 500 posts
I used to think it was because roses have thorns, but that sounds too easy an explanation. In any case, flowers are indeed interesting symbols in the context of Buk's poetry.
Yes, and don't forget "I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead..." which I believe Buk absorbed from Tennessee Williams "A Streetcar Named Desire"--"flores, flores, avenida de los muertos"....
 

the only good poet

One retreat after another without peace.
Over 500 posts
Not to be a prick but HC mentions that line in the second post. As for the origin of the quote, maybe it just comes from observing those poor sods who stand at traffic lights all day hawking roses...?
 
Yea, its one of my favorite Buk lines, and thats an interesting idea i never thought of that. However, In researching its meaning i found a very well thought out interpretation that i can't take credit for. A bukowski fan on the yahoo forum said:

"Picture for a moment a man trying to sell roses to dead people.
The man knows that a rose equivocates love and he knows that the dead aren't buying it.
To be alive and in love with the peaceful oblivion of death is the quandary Bukowski finds himself in.
He is comfortable knowing he has afforded himself the luxury of embracing death almost from his birth and he realizes that grief is not an emotion, it is the fiber that weaves itself through everything in his life up to this epiphany: He has a purpose that only he can see and appreciate."
 

the only good poet

One retreat after another without peace.
Over 500 posts
That's really, really funny! And a lot of words for one line. There again, I was amazed how much could be gleaned from that little sucker, The Sick Rose.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
Over 1000 posts
OH MY FUCKING GAWWWD!
what does it mean???
:rollfool::rollfool::rollfool::rollfool::rollfool::rollfool::rollfool:
 
Top