One More Red Rose- What a Love Poem Taught me About Theatre

  • Emma Stimpson

What's one more red rose? No, I'm not talking about Hadestown.

You know how you can hear something and have it change your life forever? Well, in typical art kid fashion, I heard a poem. It was sprung on me by my acting teacher my sophomore year of high school. She was monologuing about something I couldn't even begin to remember, and all of a sudden she segued into the most beautiful piece of text I had ever heard. It was a big metaphor comparing love to everything and anything you could could imagine and trying to figure out just what it was that made love so special. The piece is called “Little Word, Little White Bird” by Carl Sandburg, and after hunting for a few years, I finally found it in some obscure corner of the internet. Read it for yourself here (I would recommend reading it aloud):

You may be thinking to yourself: “Gross! What about a love poem could possibly impact you forever?”. Thanks for asking. It's in one of the paragraphs at the end, right after a metaphor involving a rose. Sandburg claims that the rose

“...did the best it could with what it had

and nobody wins, nobody loses,

and what's one more red rose...”.

Typing it out seems to make it more melancholy than I intend, but let me explain. The poet is saying that the rose is beautiful, and, while you have it, you are expected to have a wonderful time with it, to go out dancing and laugh until late in the night. But, eventually, that rose dies, and there are thousands out there just begging to be picked and enjoyed. He in no way invalidates the time with the rose and the joy it brought you, he just simply states that there are many more to be had. Okay, enough waxing eloquent. What does that have to do with theatre?

I just graduated college. In my 2 weeks of freedom thus far, I've been rejected from 3 jobs. Unfortunately, while that's the name of the game, it doesn't make dealing with it any easier. Coming into an audition with this phrase on my tongue has been so helpful. Coupled with my faith, it has helped me build a frame within which to structure my thoughts when going into an audition situation. I want to be able to leave, no matter what happens, and know that I did the best I could with what I had, that nobody wins or loses, and really, what's one more red rose? I chose to view the red rose as an accolade from a peer or one more “So excited and proud to announce...” Facebook posts. This is an important mindset to have because I want to do everything the best I can in order to glorify God, and who wants to leave an audition knowing they could have done more? That’s the quickest way to lose sleep at night, and we need as much of that as we can get.

My time will come, but until it does, I will continue to offer what I have to everyone who will stop long enough to look, enjoying every red rose that I DO come across, be they fun auditions or someone telling me I came up with a good improv line. I encourage you to have a thrill ride with every rose you find, and make sure you can move on to the next one knowing you've given everything you could to the last one.