The Book of the Rose

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

THE ROSE OF LIFE


 

The Rose spoke in the garden:
"Why am I sad?
The vast of sky above me
Is blue and glad;
The hushed deep of my heart
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Hath the sun's gold;
The dew slumbers till noon
In my petals' hold.
Beauty I have, and wisdom,
And love I know,
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Yet cannot release my spirit
Of its strange woe."

Then a Wind, older than Time,
Wiser than Sleep,
Answered: "The whole world's sorrow

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Is yours to keep.
Its dark descends upon you
At day's high noon;
Its pallor is whitening about you
From every moon;
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The cries of a thousand lovers,
A thousand slain,
The tears of all the forgotten
Who kissed in vain,
And the journeying years that have vanished
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Have left on you
The witness, each, of its pain,
Ancient, yet new.
So many lives you have lived;
So many a star
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Hath veered in the Signs to make you
The wonder you are!
And this is the price of your beauty:
Your wild soul is thronged
With the phantoms of joy unfulfilled
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That beauty hath wronged,
With the pangs of all secret betrayals,
The ghosts of desire,
The bite of old flame, and the chill
Of the ashes of fire."
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