University of Virginia Library






Rosamond, my Rosamond
Of roses is the rose;
Her bloom belongs to summer,
Nor less in winter glows,
When, mossed in furs all cosey,
We speed it o'er the snows
By ice-bound streams enchanted,
While red Arcturus, he
A huntsman ever ruddy,
Sees a ruddier star by me.
O Rosamond, Rose Rosamond,
Is yonder Dian's reign?
Look, the icicles despond
Chill drooping from the fane!
But Rosamond, Rose Rosamond,
In us, a plighted pair,
First makes with flame a bond,—
One purity they share.
To feel your cheek like ice,
While snug the furs inclose—
This is spousal love's device
This is Arctic Paradise,
And wooing in the snows!
Rosamond, my Rosamond,
Rose Rosamond, Moss-Rose!



The Sugar-Maple embers in bed
Here fended in Garden of Fire,
Like the Roses yield musk,
Like the Roses are Red,
Like the Roses expire
Lamented when low;
But, excelling the flower,
Are odorous in ashes
As e'en in their glow.
Ah, Love, when life closes,
Dying the death of the just,
May we vie with Hearth-Roses,
Smelling sweet in our dust.


Between a garden and old tomb
Disused, a foot-path threads the clover;
And there I met the gardener's boy
Bearing some dewy chaplets over.
I marvelled, for I just had passed
The charnel vault and shunned its gloom:
“Stay, whither wend you, laden thus;
Roses! you would not these inhume?”


“Yea, for against the bridal hour
My Master fain would keep their bloom;
A charm in the dank o'the vault there is,
Yea, we the rose entomb.”


Meek crossing of the bosom's lawn
Averted revery veil-like drawn,
Well beseem thee, nor obtrude
The cloister of thy virginhood.
And yet, white nun, that seemly dress
Of purity pale passionless,
A May-snow is; for fleeting term,
Custodian of love's slumbering germ—
Nay, nurtures it, till time disclose
How frost fed Amor's burning rose.


To us, disciples of the Order
Whose rose-vine twines the Cross,
Who have drained the rose's chalice
Never heeding gain or loss;
For all the preacher's din
There is no mortal sin—
No, none to us but Malice!
Exempt from that, in blest recline
We let life's billows toss;
If sorrow come, anew we twine
The Rose-Vine round the Cross.



Lesbia's lover when bereaved
In pagan times of yore
Ere the gladsome tidings ran
Of reunion evermore,
He wended from the pyre
Now hopeless in return—
Ah, the vial hot with tears
For the ashes cold in urn!
But I, the Rose's lover,
When my belovèd goes
Followed by the Asters
Toward the sepulchre of snows,
Then, solaced by the Vial,
Less grieve I for the Tomb,
Not widowed of the fragrance
If parted from the bloom—
Parted from the bloom
That was but for a day;
Rose! I dally with thy doom:
The solace will not stay!
There is nothing like the bloom;
And the Attar poignant minds me
Of the bloom that's passed away.



The preacher took from Solomon's Song
Four words for text with mystery rife—
The Rose of Sharon,—figuring Him
The Resurrection and the Life;
And, pointing many an urn in view,
How honied a homily he drew.
There, in the slumberous afternoon,
Through minster gray, in lullaby rolled
The brimmed metheglin charged with swoon.
Drowsy, my decorous hands I fold
Till sleep overtakes with dream for boon.
I saw an Angel with a Rose
Come out of Morning's garden-gate,
And lamp-like hold the Rose aloft,
He entered a sepulchral Strait.
I followed. And I saw the Rose
Shed dappled down upon the dead;
The shrouds and mort-cloths all were lit
To plaids and chequered tartans red.
I woke, the great Rose-Window high,
A mullioned wheel in gable set,
Suffused with rich and soft in dye
Where Iris and Aurora met;
Aslant in sheaf of rays it threw
From all its foliate round of panes
Transfiguring light on dingy stains,
While danced the motes in dusty pew.




Adore the Roses; nor delay
Until the rose-fane fall,
Or ever their censers cease to sway:
“To-day!” the rose-priests call.


Have the Roses. Needs no pelf
The blooms to buy,
Nor any rose-bed to thyself
Thy skill to try:
But live up to the Rose's light,
Thy meat shall turn to roses red,
Thy bread to roses white.


Grain by grain the Desert drifts
Against the Garden-Land:
Hedge well thy Roses, head the stealth
Of ever-creeping Land.




Attributed to Clement Drouon, monk, a Provençal of noble birth in the 11th century. In earlier life a troubadour, a devotee of Love and the Rose, but eventually, like some others of his stamp in that age, for an unrevealed cause retiring from the gay circles where he had long been a caressed favorite and ultimately disappearing from the world in a monastery.


O Queen, we are loyal: shall sad ones forget?
We are natives of Eden—
Sharing its memory with you, and your handmaidens yet.
You bravely dissemble with looks that beguile
Musing mortals to murmur
Reproachful “So festal, O Flower, we but weary the while?
What nothing has happened? no event to make wan,
Begetting things hateful—
Old age, decay, and the sorrows, devourers of man?”
They marvel and marvel how came you so bright,
Whence the splendor, the joyance—
Florid revel of joyance, the Cypress in sight!
Scarce you would poor Adam upbraid that his fall
Like a land-slide by waters
Rolled an out-spreading impulse disordering all;


That the Angel indignant, with eyes that foreran
The betrayed generations,
Cast out the flowers wherewith Eve decked her nuptials with man.
Ah, exile is exile, tho' spiced be the sod,
In Shushan we languish—
Languish with the secret desire for the garden of God.
But all of us yet—
We the Lilies whose palor is passion,
We the Pansies that muse nor forget—
In harbinger airs how we freshen,
When, clad in the amice of gray silver-hemmed,
Meek coming in twilight and dew,
The Day-Spring, with pale priestly hand and begemmed,
Touches, and coronates you:—
Breathing, O daughter of far descent,
Banished, yet blessed in banishment,
Whereto is appointed a term;
Flower, voucher of Paradise, visible pledge,
Rose, attesting it spite of the Worm.




Coming through the rye:
Thereof the rural poet whistles;
But who the flute will try
At scrambling through the thistles!
Nor less upon some roseate way
Emerge the prickly passage may.
But we who after ragged scrambles
Through fate's blessed thorns and brambles
Come unto our roses late—
Aright to manage the estate,
This indeed it well may task us
Quite inexperienced as we be
In aught but thickets that unmasque us
Of man's ennobling drapery.
Indigence is a plain estate:
Riches imply the complicate.
What peevish pestering wants surprise,
What bothering ambitions rise!
Then, too, Fate loans a lot luxurious
At such hard cent-per-cent usurious!
Mammon, never meek as Moses,
Gouty, mattressed on moss-roses,
A crumpled rose-leaf makes him furious.


Allow, as one's purveyor here
Of sweet content of Christian cheer,
“Vile Pelf” we overestimate.
Howbeit, a rose-farm nigh Damascus
Would Dives change at even rate
For Lazarus' snow-farm in Alaskus?
But that recalls me: I return.—
A friend, whose shadow has decreased,
For whom they reared a turbaned urn,
A corpulent grandee of the East,
Whose kind good will to me began
When I against his Rhamadan
Prepared a chowder for his feast,
Well dying, he remembered me:
A brave bequest, a farm in fee
Forever consecrate to roses,
And laved by streams that sacred are,
Pharpar and twin-born Abana,
Which last the pleasure-ground incloses,
At least winds half-way roundabout—
That garden to caress, no doubt.
But, ah, the stewardship it poses!
Every hour the bloom, the bliss
Upbraid me that I am remiss.
For still I dally,—I delay,—
Long do hesitate, and say,
“Of fifty thousand Damask Roses,—


(For my rose-farm no great matter),
Shall I make me heaps of posies,
Or some crystal drops of Attar?
To smell or sell or for a boon.
Quick you cull a rose and easy;
But Attar is not got so soon,
Demanding more than gesture breezy.
Yet this same Attar, I suppose,
Long time will last, outlive indeed
The rightful sceptre of the rose
And coronations of the weed.
Sauntering, plunged in this debate,
And somewhat leaning to elect
The thing most easy to effect,
I chanced upon a Persian late,
A sort of gentleman-rose-farmer
On knees beside his garden-gate
Telling his beads, just like a palmer.
Beads? coins, I meant. Each golden one
Upon a wire of silver run;
And every time a coin he told
His brow he raised and eyes he rolled
Devout in grateful orison.
Surely, methought, this pious man,
A florist, too, will solve my doubt.
Saluting him, I straight began:
“Decide, I pray, a dubious matter—”
And put the Roses and the Attar.


Whereat the roses near and far—
For all his garden was a lawn
Of roses thick as daisies are
In meads from smoky towns withdrawn—
They turned their heads like ladies, when
They hear themselves discussed by men.
But he, he swerved a wrinkled face,
Elderly, yet with ruddy trace—
Tinged doubly by warm flushings thrown
From sunset's roses and his own;
And, after scanning me and sounding,
“And you?—an older man than I?
Late come you with your sage propounding:
Allah! your time has long gone by.”—
“Alack, Sir, but so ruled the fate
I came unto my roses late.
What then? these gray hairs but disguise,
Since down in heart youth never dies—
O, sharpened by the long delay,
I'm eager for my roses quite;
But first would settle this prime matter—
Touching the Roses and the Attar:
I fear to err there; set me right.”
Meseemed his purs'd eyes grateful twinkled
Hearing of veteran youth unwrinkled,
Himself being old. But now the answer
Direct came, like a charging lancer:


“Attar? Go ask the Parsee yonder.
Lean as a rake with his distilling,
Cancel his debts, scarce worth a shilling!
How he exists I frequent wonder.
No neighbor loves him: sweet endeavor
Will get a nosegay from him never;
No, nor even your ducats will;
A very save-all for his still!
Of me, however, all speak well:
You see, my little coins I tell;
I give away, but more I sell,
In mossy pots, or bound in posies,
Always a market for my roses.
But attar, why, it comes so dear
Tis far from popular, that's clear.
I flourish, I; yon heavens they bless me,
My darlings cluster to caress me.”
At that fond sentence overheard,
Methought his rose-seraglio stirred.
But further he: “Yon Parsee lours
Headsman and Blue Beard of the flowers.
In virgin flush of efflorescence
When buds their bosoms just disclose,
To get a mummified quintessence
He scimeters the living rose!
I grant, against my different way,
Something, and specious, one might say.
Ay, pluck a rose in dew Auroral,
For buttonette to please the sight,—
The dawn's bloom and the bloom but floral,
Why, what a race with them in flight!


Quick, too, the redolence it stales.
And yet you have the brief delight,
And yet the next morn's bud avails;
And on in sequence.”
Came that close,
And, lo, in each flushed garden-bed,
What agitation! every rose
Bridling aloft the passionate head!
But what it was that angered here,—
Just why the high resentment shown,
Pray ask of her who'll hint it clear—
A Mormon's first-wife making moan.
But he, rose-farmer, long time versed
In roses husbanded by him,
Letting a glance upon them skim,
Followed his thread and more rehearsed;
And, waxing now a trifle warm:
“This evansecence is the charm!
And most it wins the spirits that be
Celestial, Sir. It comes to me
It was this fleeting charm in show
That lured the sons of God below,
Tired out with perpetuity
Of heaven's own seventh heaven aglow;
Not Eve's fair daughters, Sir; nay, nay,
Less fugitive in charm are they:


It was the rose.” As this he said
So flattering in imputation,—
Angelic sweethearts overhead,
Even seraphs paying them adoration,—
Each rose, as favoring the whim
Grave nodded,—as attesting him.
“But now, Sir, for your urgent matter.
Every way—for wise employment,
Repute and profit, health, enjoyment,
I am for roses—sink the Attar!”
And hereupon the downright man
To tell his rosary re-began.
And never a rose in all the garden
Blushed deeper there to hear their warden
So forcefully express his mind.
Methought they even seemed to laugh—
True ladies who, in temper kind,
Will pardon aught, though unrefined,
Sincerely vouched in their behalf.
Discreet, in second thought's immersion
I wended from this prosperous Persian
Who, verily, seemed in life rewarded
For sapient prudence not amiss,
Nor transcendental essence hoarded
In hope of quintessential bliss:
No, never with painstaking throes
Essays to crystallize the rose.


But here arrest the loom—the line.
Though damask be your precious stuff,
Spin it not out too superfine:
The flower of a subject is enough.
Rosy dawns the morning Syrian,
Youthful as in years of Noah:
Why then aging at three-score?
Do moths infest your mantle Tyrian?
Shake it out where the sun-beams pour!
Time, Amigo, does but masque us—
Boys in gray wigs, young at core.
Look, what damsels of Damascus,
Roses, lure the Pharpar's shore!
Sigh not—Age, dull tranquilizer,
And arid years that filed before,
For flowers unfit us. Nay, be wiser:
Wiser in relish, if sedate
Come gray-beards to their roses late.