Symbolism of the rose.
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Yeats addresses this poem to the rose, the unifying symbol of the collection. Typically the rose symbolized a nationalist vision of Ireland, feminized in the character "Roisin Dubh," which translates, "the black rose." The rose also symbolizes Maud Gonne, a female revolutionary with whom Yeats was deeply in love. Her nationalist politics, coupled with her dark beauty, resonate with the wild, beautiful symbol of Ireland.