Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Songs, Ballads, and a Play (1888)
II. Tuberoses
By A. Mary F. Robinson-Darmesteter (1857–1944)
 
I.
THE TUBEROSE you left me yesterday
  Leans yellowing in the glass we set it in;
It could not live when you were gone away,
  Poor spike of withering sweetness changed and thin.
 
And all the fragrance of the dying flower        5
  Is grown too faint and poisoned at the source,
Like passion that survives a guilty hour,
  To find its sweetness heavy with remorse.
 
What shall we do, my dear, with dying roses?
  Shut them in weighty tomes where none will look        10
—To wonder when the unfrequent page uncloses
  Who shut the wither’d blossoms in the book?—
 
What shall we do, my dear, with things that perish,
  Memory, roses, love we feel and cherish?
 
II.
Alive and white, we praised the Tuberose,
        15
  So sweet it fill’d the garden with its breath
A spike of waxy bloom that grows and grows
  Until at length it blooms itself to death.
 
Everything dies that lives—everything dies;
  How shall we keep the flower we lov’d so long?        20
O press to death the transient thing we prize,
  Crush it, and shut the elixir in a song.
 
A song is neither live nor sweet nor white.
  It hath no heavenly blossom tall and pure,
No fragrance can it breathe for our delight,        25
  It grows not, neither lives; it may endure.
 
Sweet Tuberose, adieu! you fade too fast!
  Only a dream, only a thought, can last.
 
III.
Who’d stay to muse if Death could never wither?
  Who dream a dream if Passion did not pass?        30
But, once deceived, poor mortals hasten hither
  To watch the world in Fancy’s magic glass.
 
Truly your city, O men, hath no abiding!
  Built on the sand it crumbles, as it must;
And as you build, above your praise and chiding,        35
  The columns fall to crush you to the dust.
 
But fashion’d in the mirage of a dream,
  Having nor life nor sense, a bubble of nought,
The enchanted City of the Things that seem
  Keeps till the end of time the eternal Thought.        40
 
Forswear to-day, forswearing joy and sorrow,
Forswear to-day, O man, and take to-morrow.
 
 
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