John Davidson

(11 April 1857 – 23 March 1909 / Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, Scotland)

The Last Rose


'O WHICH is the last rose?'
A blossom of no name.
At midnight the snow came;
At daybreak a vast rose,
In darkness unfurl'd,
O'er-petall'd the world.

Its odourless pallor
Blossom'd forlorn,
Till radiant valour
Establish'd the morn--
Till the night
Was undone
In her fight
With the sun.

The brave orb in state rose,
And crimson he shone first;
While from the high vine
Of heaven the dawn burst,
Staining the great rose
From sky-line to sky-line.

The red rose of morn
A white rose at noon turn'd;
But at sunset reborn
All red again soon burn'd.
Then the pale rose of noonday
Rebloom'd in the night,
And spectrally white
   In the light
Of the moon lay.

But the vast rose
   Was scentless,
And this is the reason:
When the blast rose
   Relentless,
And brought in due season
The snow rose, the last rose
Congeal'd in its breath,
Then came with it treason;
The traitor was Death.

In lee-valleys crowded,
The sheep and the birds
Were frozen and shrouded
In flights and in herds.
In highways
And byways
The young and the old
Were tortured and madden'd
And kill'd by the cold.
But many were gladden'd
By the beautiful last rose,
The blossom of no name
That came when the snow came,
In darkness unfurl'd--
The wonderful vast rose
That fill'd all the world.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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