Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(6 March 1806 – 29 June 1861 / Durham / England)

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A Dead Rose


O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,---
Kept seven years in a drawer---thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,---
If breathing now,---unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,---
If shining now,---with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,---
If dropping now,---would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf's pure edges, after heat,---
If lighting now,---would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,---
If passing now,---would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,---
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!---
Lie still upon this heart---which breaks below thee!

Submitted: Saturday, May 12, 2001
Edited: Thursday, April 12, 2012

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Read poems about / on: rose, alone, flower, joy, heart, sun, light, smile, change, dance

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  • Rookie - 87 Points Liliana ~el (4/12/2014 8:15:00 PM)

    Beautiful, deep, captivating
    sun...in thy gorgeous urn...bloom, and flower to burn
    Statement about the past, abandonment, and change
    Fully descriptive
    Brings attention to the ideal of living completely in the present moment, cherishing with total mindfulness, thankfulness, and grace. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 325 Points Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/1/2013 6:33:00 AM)

    Yes like the rose they fall for us
    When we are pink and sweet sixteen
    But time is short and petals fall
    And few come visiting in between

    Our lives are also like roses stretched into longer spans. When pink cheeks wrinkle with age few heads will turn when you pass by. Fresh roses have to fall and manure the earth so that new buds are born. All ye poets who read this are welcome to my page too... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 304 Points Hardik Vaidya (4/12/2013 11:22:00 PM)

    I normally am blind and dud to appreciate old poetry, this one perhaps helped me feel I am not that dumb after all. What a Masterpeice. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Kelly Passion (2/16/2013 4:00:00 AM)

    never a moment would pass without a thought given to this blissful piece...
    i owe a lot to the heart that created this piece
    i love this article...........Tempest cherishes this (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,655 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (4/12/2012 8:12:00 AM)

    The bee that once did suck thee,
    And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
    And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive, -
    If passing now, -would blindly overlook thee.....

    Great art always goes beyond the time. The poem, specially the quoted lines yet so genuinely documentising the passion of time present, great. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,655 Points Paul Brookes (4/12/2012 2:46:00 AM)

    How beautiful Her description of a memento of love kept seven years. Yet though fade the love it inspired is still fresh. The contrast to the living roses which have not half the love or life even if it is dried and lifeless. What could be more personal. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,655 Points Anjali Mandokhot (12/5/2007 10:36:00 PM)

    this is an extraordinary piece.......never ave i seen or read anyone else avin love 4 a dead rose and feeling debted towards it from heart.......i really believe that heart owes much love to the dead rose 4 it was a heart that fell for it and plucked it from its abode, where it was enjoyin so much of nature's love......, and it wa a heart that shut it up in a drawer to die. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,655 Points Liz Elizabeth (8/7/2007 4:33:00 AM)

    hey, you are really talented! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! altought we have the same name....but i thing there had a lot of differences between us! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! i am sure i'll dont have such a good poem, even the next 10 years...hahahaha^_^great job. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,655 Points Beca Sawatzky (5/14/2007 8:30:00 PM)

    I Really don't like Her poems at all. they don't make any sense to me and they have nothing to do with personal life. (Report) Reply

Read all 16 comments »

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