Roses are Red
DESCRIPTION: "Roses are red, violets are blue, (sugar/honey/gillyflower) is sweet and so are you."
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammer Gurton's Garland)
KEYWORDS: nonballad flowers
FOUND IN: US(Ap)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 458, "The rose is red, the violet blue" (1 text)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 238, (no title) (1 short text: "Roses red, violets blue, cucumbers green and so are you"!); p. 243 (no title) (1 short text)
Carey-MarylandFolkloreLife, p. 81, "(no title)" (2 short texts, "Roses are red, violets are blue, A face like yours Belongs in the zoo"; "Roses are red, violets are black, You'd look better with a knife in your back")
NOTES [94 words]: Although this is widely known (i.e. even I heard it in youth), except for Henry, I have seen no evidence that it is a song and not simply a rhyme. The Opie version is a gift song for Easter; I have not seen this elsewhere (nor seen any other version which mentions the gillyflower).
It certainly has inspired parodies -- e.g. Peter and Iona Opie, I Saw Esau: Traditional Rhymes of Youth, #146, offers "Roses are red, Violets are blue, The shorter the skirt, The better the view" and "Roses are red, Cabbages are green, If my face is funny, Yours is a scream." - RBW
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.