“i shall imagine life
is not worth dying, if
(and when) roses complain
their beauties are in vain

but though mankind persuades
itself that every weed’s
a rose, roses (you feel
certain) will only smile”

E.E. Cummings, “i shall imagine life”

I once reviewed a poem for a high school literary magazine that included the line “not vain/ Like a flower.” I mistook the author’s meaning, or at least her punctuation, to imply that flowers are vain. Which of course they are. What other purpose is the color and the beauty except to call attention to itself: the very definition of vain.