How to Write a "Roses Are Red" Poem
by Bruce Lansky
Some roses are red, but some are gold, peach, or white. Just as roses can be different colors, this Valentine’s Day folk rhyme can be written in different ways.

Most people are familiar with this poem, and it’ll be easy and fun for you to change it around and create surprising, delightful, and funny variations.

First of all, in case you’ve forgotten, here’s the original:

    Roses Are Red
    Roses are red.
    Violets are blue.
    Sugar is sweet.
    And so are you.


Before I show you how easy and fun it is to create variations on this pattern, here’s one I think you’ll enjoy:

    Roses are Blue

    Roses are blue.
    Violets are red.
    If you agree,
    You’ve got rocks in your head.

    —By a student in Denver whose name I’ve forgotten

I hope you’re thinking, "That looks like fun. How did that student come up with such a cute rhyme?" Here’s the method:

Write the names of colors that contain only one syllable. Under the names, write words that rhyme with the colors. Eventually, your paper should look something like this:

    white blue red pink green black
    sight shoe bed stink mean back
    fright too head think seen sack
    tight two dead drink bean tack

    kite clue said fink
    fight you fed few

Okay, now you’re ready to get into a fun, creative session. Start off with a "fill in the blank" poetry completion exercise. Pick one of the colors on your list, say "pink." Recite the following stanza, then fill in the blank at the end.

    Violets are blue.
    Roses are pink.
    Put on your shoes,
    your feet really ____.

    —Bruce Lansky

If you pick "black," say:

    Roses are red.
    Asphalt is black.
    If you’re feeling hungry,
    I’ll give you a _____.

If you pick "blue," say:

    Roses are red.
    Violets are blue.
    Please flush the toilet
    after you’re _______.

    —Bruce Lansky

Once you’ve caught on to the "fill in the blank" idea, move on to a more difficult creative exercise. See if you can complete an entire poem. In other words, after picking a color, create the last two lines on your own. Arrange the first two lines according to your color choice as suggested above.

This is a challenging exercise that you’ll love to work on at home or on the bus. Who knows what you’ll come up with? I’ll bet some of your poems will be fun to read and worth sharing with your classmates and teachers—possibly in the form of illustrated posters that can be used to decorate your classrooms or hallways on Valentine’s Day.

Speaking of which, since I usually have the sniffles during the month of February, here’s my Valentine’s Day poem to you:


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