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A Collection of Rose Poems and Poetry from  Famous Poets and Authors.


Algernon Charles Swinburne.  1837 1909


From the depths of the green garden-closes Where the summer in darkness dozes Till autumn pluck from his hand An hour-glass that holds not a sand; From the maze that a flower-belt encloses To the stones and sea-grass on the strand How red was the reign of the roses Over the rose-crowned land!

The year of the rose is brief; From the first blade blown to the sheaf, From the thin green leaf to the gold, It has time to be sweet and grow old, To triumph and leave not a leaf For witness in winter's sight How lovers once in the light Would mix their breath with its breath, And its spirit was quenched not of night, As love is subdued not of death.

In the red-rose land not a mile Of the meadows from stile to stile, Of the valleys from stream to stream, But the air was a long sweet dream And the earth was a sweet wide smile Red-mouthed of a goddess, returned From the sea which had borne her and burned, That with one swift smile of her mouth Looked full on the north as it yearned, And the north was more than the south.

For the north, when winter was long, In his heart had made him a song, And clothed it with wings of desire, And shod it with shoon as of fire, To carry the tale of his wrong To the south-west wind by the sea, That none might bear it but he To the ear of the goddess unknown Who waits till her time shall be To take the world for a throne.

In the earth beneath, and above In the heaven where her name is love, She warms with light from her eyes The seasons of life as they rise, And her eyes are as eyes of a dove, But the wings that lift her and bear As an eagle's, and all her hair As fire by the wind's breath curled, And her passage is song through the air, And her presence is spring through the world.

So turned she northward and came, And the white-thorn land was aflame With the fires that were shed from her feet, That the north, by her love made sweet, Should be called by a rose-red name; And a murmur was heard as of doves, And a music beginning of loves In the light that the roses made, Such light as the music loves, The music of man with maid.

But the days drop one upon one, And a chill soft wind is begun In the heart of the rose-red maze That weeps for the roseleaf days And the reign of the rose undone That ruled so long in the light, And by spirit, and not by sight, Through the darkness thrilled with its breath, Still ruled in the viewless night, As love might rule over death.

The time of lovers is brief; From the fair first joy to the grief That tells when love is grown old, From the warm wild kiss to the cold, From the red to the white-rose leaf, They have but a season to seem As rose-leaves lost on a stream That part not and pass not apart As a spirit from dream to dream, As a sorrow from heart to heart.

From the bloom and the gloom that encloses The death-bed of Love where he dozes Till a relic be left not of sand To the hour-glass that breaks in his hand; From the change in the grey garden-closes To the last stray grass of the strand, A rain and ruin of roses Over the red-rose land.



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