Roses-Are-Red Poem

Nationality: American
Primary Language: English
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Performance Date: 02/21/2024


Roses are red
Violets are blue
A face like yours
Belongs in the zoo
Don’t be mad, I’ll be there too
Not in a cage, but laughing at you


This is a saying that the informant heard from her older brother, when he was 10 and she was 5. She remembers being overjoyed when she heard this iteration of the “roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you” saying because she thought it was far more interesting. She was also very glad that there was a version of the saying that was no longer expressly romantic, but was rather a coded insult. After she learned the phrase from her brother, she proceeded to say it to numerous boys in her grade, while also instructing her friends to spread it as well.


This was really interesting to hear, because this is not a version of the classic “roses are red” poem that I have heard before! This type of poem was quite common, and even today I continue to hear new versions. However, this was a creative version I was not expecting to hear. As the informant said, it was a departure from the status quo of roses-are-red poems because is meant to be an insult, rather than a compliment. In my experience, these jokes are told mainly in elementary school and middle school, and this one seems like it would fit perfectly in the settings as a cheeky insult, contributing the American cultural catalog of “boy” versus “girl” insults and jabs (although it is not explicitly gendered).