Jejudo, South Korea
Some time ago, I was in one of my usual tirades against certain words that I think are overused in poetry (the specific word was 'soul'). Now, I've met several people who disagree with me on this and many people have used the word in some of the most original poetry on the net but Ron asked if 'soul' was really worse than the word 'rose'. I never got a chance to reply because that thread then turned into an entirely different kind of thing (these things happen). Anyway, here's my reply now.
No, the word 'soul' is not worse than 'rose' but for but both words should be avoided for very different reasons. 'Soul' is often used too vaguely and seems an attempt to show the deepness of one's feelings without necessarily letting the reader see that deepness through other, more descriptive words. I think it's cheating. 'Rose' on the other hand has lost it's power through sheer overuse. As the name of a flower, it's certainly not vague but rather uninspiring -- I've read it before. Furthermore, the use of the rose in romantic relationships has even become outdated. I can't prove this of course but I have three or four anecdotal stories to back my case:
1. My wife hates all flowers in general. She just doesn't like the idea of getting flowers that will only die in the long run. On our last anniversary I bought her cacti (not a common plant in Korea) which she takes care of to this day. If you think about it, cacti can be used in poetry with very similar results to that of the rose, thorns and all.
2. On two separate occasions (and in two countries actually), I've given flowers that were not roses and in both cases, I received similar answers. One young lady said, "These are the most beautiful flowers I have ever received" meaning of course that she's received a lot of flowers and the other young lady said, "I get a lot of flowers but these (It was a Bird of Paradise bouquet -- maybe a little strong but she said those were her favorite.) but I really like these."
3. When I actually did give roses (and for those who've read 'Maricel's Graduation', I'm talking about her), she said, "You know, I receive a lot of roses but these are special" and she was still in high school at the time (this was twelve years ago so I'm not a child molester, you see) . In other words, it's the thought that counts, not the actual roses. Ultimately, roses indicate a lack of imagination on the part of the giver and have lost whatever romantic strength they may have had over time.
These are personal experiences and other people may have had different, perhaps even positive, experiences with the rose but if roses don't work in real life, why in the world should we think that they are going to work in poetry.
Just an opinion,
PS Next, I want to talk about the word 'I' and pronouns in general.