Roses and Rues
Could we dig up this long-buried treasure,
Were it worth the pleasure,
We never could learn love’s song,
We are parted too long
Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead,
Could we live it all over again,
Were it worth the pain!
I remember we used to meet
By an ivied seat,
And you warbled each pretty word
With the air of a bird;
And your voice had a quaver in it,
Just like a linnet,
And shook, as the blackbird’s throat
With its last big note;
And your eyes, they were green and grey
Like an April day,
But lit into amethyst
When I stooped and kissed;
And your mouth, it would never smile
For a long, long while,
Then it rippled all over with laughter
Five minutes after.
You were always afraid of a shower,
Just like a flower:
I remember you started and ran
When the rain began.
I remember I never could catch you,
For no one could match you,
You had wonderful, luminous, fleet,
Little wings to your feet.
I remember your hair – did I tie it?
For it always ran riot –
Like a tangled sunbeam of gold:
These things are old.
I remember so well the room,
And the lilac bloom
That beat at the dripping pane
In the warm June rain;
And the colour of your gown,
It was amber-brown,
And two yellow satin bows
From the shoulders rose.
And the handkerchief of French lace
Which you held to your face-
Had a small tear left a stain?
Or was it the rain?
On your hand as it waved adieu
There were veins of blue;
In your voice as it said good-bye
Was a petulant cry,
“You have only wasted your life.”
(Ah, that was the knife!)
When I rushed through the garden gate
It was all too late.
Could we live it over again,
Were it worth the pain,
Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead!
Well, if my heart must break,
Dear love, for your sake,
It will break in music, I know,
Poets’ hearts break so.
But strange that I was not told
That the brain can hold
In a tiny ivory cell
God’s heaven and hell.
Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone
She is at rest.
Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
Heap earth upon it.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Lord May I Come?
Life and night are falling from me,
Death and day are opening on me,
Wherever my footsteps come and go,
Life is a stony way of woe.
Lord, have I long to go?
Hallow hearts are ever near me,
Soulless eyes have ceased to cheer me:
Lord may I come to thee?
Life and youth and summer weather
To my heart no joy can gather.
Lord, lift me from life’s stony way!
Loved eyes long closed in death watch for me:
Holy death is waiting for me –
Lord, may I come to-day?
My outward life feels sad and still
Like lilies in a frozen rill;
I am gazing upwards to the sun,
Lord, Lord, remembering my lost one.
O Lord, remember me!
How is it in the unknown land?
Do the dead wander hand in hand?
God, give me trust in thee.
Do we clasp dead hands and quiver
With an endless joy for ever?
Do tall white angels gaze and wend
Along the banks where lilies bend?
Lord, we know not how this may be:
Good Lord we put our faith in thee –
O God, remember me.
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905 – 2004)
Autumn leaves are falling
About her new-made grave
Where the tall grass bends to listen
To the murmur of the wave.
Laden autumn, here I stand
With my sheaves in either hand;
Speak the word that sets me free,
Naught but rest seems good to me.
– Elizabeth Siddal (1829-1862)
Love and Hate
Open not thy lips, thou foolish one,
Nor turn to me thy face;
The blasts of heaven shall strike thee down
Ere I will give thee grace.
Take thou thy shadow from my path,
Nor turn to me and pray;
The wild wild winds thy dirge may sing
Ere I will bid thee stay.
Turn thou away thy false dark eyes,
Nor gaze upon my face;
Great love I bore thee: now great hate
Sits grimly in its place.
All changes pass me like a dream,
I neither sing nor pray;
And thou art like the poisonous tree
That stole my life away.