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The meaning and origin of the expression: A bed of roses

A bed of roses

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'A bed of roses'?

The expression 'a bed of roses' describes a pleasant or easy situation.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A bed of roses'?

'A bed of roses' is first found in Christopher Marlowe's The Passionate Shepherd To His Love. This was published posthumously in 1599 - Marlowe died in 1593.

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

A bed of rosesHere, Marlowe was referring to real flowers. The phrase has since come to be used figuratively to refer to any easy and pleasant situation, floral or otherwise.

The literal interpretation of the phrase was taken up in the imagery for the 1999 film 'American Beauty'.

The commercial potential of that imagery was soon exploited and 'Bed of Roses' bath kits were soon on sale.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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