Low Tide on Grand Pré: A Book of Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

WHEN THE GUELDER ROSES BLOOM


 

WHEN the Guelder roses bloom,
Love, the vagrant, wanders home.

Love, that died so long ago,
As we deemed, in dark and snow,

Comes back to the door again,

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Guendolen, Guendolen.

In his hands a few bright flowers,
Gathered in the earlier hours,

Speedwell-blue, and poppy-red,
Withered in the sun and dead,

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With a history to each,
Are more eloquent than speech.

In his eyes the welling tears
Plead against the lapse of years.

And that mouth we knew so well,

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Hath a pilgrim’s tale to tell.

Hear his litany again:
"Guendolen, Guendolen!"

"No, love, no, thou art a ghost!
Love long since in night was lost.

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"Thou art but the shade of him,
For thine eyes are sad and dim."

"Nay, but they will shine once more,
 Glad and brighter than before,

"If thou bring me but again

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 To my mother Guendolen!

"These dark flowers are for thee,
 Gathered by the lonely sea.

"And these singing shells for her
 Who first called me wanderer,

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"In whose beauty glad I grew,
 When this weary life was new."

Hear him raving! "It is I.
Love once born can never die."

"Thou, poor love, thou art gone mad

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 With the hardships thou hast had.

"True, it is the spring of year,
 But thy mother is not here.

"True, the Guelder roses bloom
 As long since about this room,

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"Where thy blessed self was born
 In the early golden morn

"But the years are dead, good lack!
 Ah, love, why hast thou come back,

"Pleading at the door again,

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  'Guendolen, Guendolen’?"

When the Guelder roses bloom,
And the vernal stars resume

Their old purple sweep and range,
I can hear a whisper strange

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As the wind gone daft again,
"Guendolen, Guendolen!"

"When the Guelder roses blow,
 Love that died so long ago,

"Why wilt thou return so oft,

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 With that whisper sad and soft

"On thy pleading lips again,
  ‘Guendolen, Guendolen’!"

Still the Guelder roses bloom,
And the sunlight fills the room,

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Where love’s shadow at the door
Falls upon the dusty floor.

And his eyes are sad and grave
With the tenderness they crave,

Seeing in the broken rhyme

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The significance of time,

Wondrous eyes that know not sin
From his brother death, wherein

I can see thy look again,
Guendolen, Guendolen.

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And love with no more to say,
In this lovely world to-day

Where the Guelder roses bloom,
Than the record on a tomb,

Only moves his lips again,

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"Guendolen, Guendolen!"

Then he passes up the road
From this dwelling, where he bode

In the by-gone years. And still,
As he mounts the sunset hill

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Where the Guelder roses blow
With their drifts of summer snow,

I can hear him, like one dazed
At a phantom he has raised,

Murmur o’er and o’er again,

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"Guendolen, Guendolen!"

And thus every year, I know,
When the Guelder roses blow,

Love will wander by my door,
Till the spring returns no more;

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Till no more I can withstand,
But must rise and take his hand

Through the countries of the night,
Where he walks by his own sight,

To the mountains of a dawn

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That has never yet come on,

Out of this fair land of doom
Where the Guelder roses bloom,

Till I come to thee again,
Guendolen, Guendolen.

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