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Common version of a line from Gertrude Stein -- the sentence first seen in the poem "Sacred Emily", written 1913, is actually "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." But she re-used the line in several other places with different numbers of repetitions of "rose" and with or without the article "A" at the beginning, so there can't be said to be only one correct quotation. "A rose is a rose is a rose" is the most-seen version when people quote Stein.

So what's it supposed to mean? Her answer when asked about it was 'that in the time of Homer, or of Chaucer, when the language was new, "the poet could use the name of the thing and the thing was really there." But as memory took it over, it lost its identity, which she was trying to recover.' She also said in Four in America that "I think in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years." My "American Literature 1900-1945" professor said that the line is supposed to have come to Stein in a dream, but I cannot find any confirmation of this.

http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap7/stein.html http://www.english.uiuc.edu/finnegan/English%20256/gertrude_stein.htm

I think it was one of those lazy Sunday mornings when I wasn’t out playing golf that I tuned into my favorite radio station, fired up the coffee pot , sat down on my porch settled back for some good old fashioned listening. If I recall correctly, I was listening to Will Shortz when either he or one of his listeners came up a kind of tongue in cheek story about the origin of “ a rose is a rose is a rose”. For some reason, it kinda stuck in my head and I found it amusing. I hope you do to.

We have to go back a long way, to the days of the Roman Empire to be precise, to find the roots of “a rose is a rose is a rose.”

It seems that Nero and Cicero were neighbors and both of them had huge estates facing each other on the opposite sides of some hills. Besides being neighbors, they shared something else in common; they were both fans of gardening and every year their hills were covered in rows of roses. The only difference was that Nero’s hills were covered with red roses and Cicero’s hills were adorned with yellow ones.

Remember that I said they were both “fans” of gardening? Well, since both Nero and Cicero were above doing any manual labor themselves, they naturally hired a gardener to their dirty work for them.

When winter time rolled around, the gardener in charge of Nero’s land went about planting the rose bulbs for the next season. As he went about his chores, he realized that he had inadvertently been stepping on the last row he had planted. He also realized he didn’t have enough bulbs left in order to complete the last row. Not wanting to incur the wrath of his master, he decided to sneak across the field on over to Cicero’s land and help himself to a row of his bulbs.

As springtime rolled around and the roses began to bloom, Nero surveyed his land and noticed that amongst his row after row of red roses, there, sticking out like a sore thumb, stood a row of yellow roses. Nero was puzzled and sent a note to his gardener that asked the following….

“Our roses arose, is a row Cicero’s?”

A nice play on words if you were to ask me.

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