THE ROSE IN BAROQUE POETRY
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Although no poetic evocation of the rose in the Baroque style can equal Daniel Naborowski's 'Róza przypisana po koledzie' (Rose attached after carolling) the characteristic rose imagery can be found in a great number of other texts, eg. Waclaw Potocki's intricate analogies of that noble flower. The rose is associated with ideas and values such as purity and nobility (going back to the Neo-Platonic idea of the angelic mind), coyness and youth. In poems written in an elevated, heroic mode the rose often symbolizes chivalric fame. The transient beauty of the flower may as well suggest a range of ambivalent or contradictory senses, generated by the imagination or supplied by tradition (Sappho) and mythology. The Horatian tradition, which has a prominent place in Polish Renaissance and Baroque poetry, combines roses with other flowers admired for their colour and sweet smell (as for example in the poems of Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski). In such bouquets the rose is usually assigned a laudatory function, though on many occasions (eg. in the 'Ode to the Narew') it remains a sovereign entity. Seventeenth-century Polish 'rose' lyrics also draw on Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'. For the classicistic Daniel Naborowski roses bring both glimpses of the golden age and an adumbration of a re-born world to come. In poetry roses, as well as other flowers, set off the metaphoric transformation of things and moments in time into revelations of beauty. Their beauty may be perfect and abstract, outside human time and space, and yet they are endowed with sensuous shapes, smells, colours, and made to grow in the Baroque Gardens of Love (eg. Zimorowic's The Twentieth: Melani). In this case the poet's argument climaxes in a dazzling paradox (the rhetorical figure of the merviglia). There can be little doubt that the Baroque poets were fascinated by the extraordinary beauty of the rose. Following the lead of Tasso they were busy discovering its potential for engendering a wealth of poetic expression manifested in a wide range of genres, ie. the epithalamion, which extols the inner beauty shining through words and speech. It should also be noted that in the seventeenth-century and the preceding epochs the rose was a favourite emblematic flower, emblazoned on coats of arms and heraldic signs. The rose is some-times paired with the lily - in a most boldly imaginative manner in the poems of Morsztyn.
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