I stumbled across this answer on The Workplace, where the OP has done freelancing work but had their remuneration withheld. The answer opened with

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Pay me.

Some quick Google-ing turned up the Wikipedia article suggesting "Roses are red" comes from classic poetry. This left me even more confused about the quotation in the answer. I had two hypotheses without making sense out of either:

  1. Both "roses are red" and "violets are blue" are straightforward facts, implying whatever follows would also be "straightforward", in a manner similar to "because (...), (you should) pay me".
  2. It's just some (random) poetry trying to make the "Pay me" word less absurd or blunt.

2 Answers 2


It is just a joke playing on the reader's expectations. The "Roses Are Red" poem is extremely well known, and is sometimes even used to teach children what a rhyme is. There are a very large number of rhymes that are parodies of this where the last two lines are changed. Usually the last line needs to end with something rhyming with "blue", and in the post on The Workplace it states this is "an old consultant's rhyme", so that's what's expected. Instead it just ends with "Pay me" to be funny.

  • Hah, Hypothesis III.
    – iBug
    May 2, 2021 at 2:58
  • This is the application I was using when I wrote the answer on the other site. In general non-ESL usages, this is a fairly common "pop culture" reference (from multiple generations). Also the reader is expecting something that rhymes with "blue" as it reads like a poem. The juxtaposition of returning directly to "the point" provides a little humor to what can be a touchy subject. May 2, 2021 at 17:53

I agree with windblade, but I have a feeling the "old consultant's rhyme":

  • strongly implies a fourth line, just like the original;
  • that does rhyme with "blue", as expected;
  • and has the same shortened meter as the third line;
  • and is not spoken aloud because it is very crude. But it is intended to be "heard" by the other party.

If you go looking, (albeit in the opposite order), the "last two" lines are a common response of freelancers to "do it for exposure" or "when we get successful, we'll credit you".

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