AND, canst thou ask me, why this rose
Is held, so precious, by my heart?
And knowest thou not, that Love bestows
On slightest gifts, the faded flower,
The severed lock, a mystic power,
Can ne'er depart?
And canst thou ask me, what the charm,
That makes this withered rose, so dear?
And why, preserved from hurt or harm,
While other flowers have fallen, unwept,
Like sainted relic, this is kept,
Year after year?
And canst thou ask me, what the worth,
Which can attach to thing, like this?
And why, what seems like merest earth,
What finds no grace, in eye of thine,
Should be so doted on, by mine,
In secret bliss?
Then thou hast never felt the power,
Of ceaseless, solitary love;
Hast never known, how every hour,
Spent with that one beloved alone,
Will still be prized, when years have flown,
All hours, above.
Aye prized; though that were idle word,
To speak the fond and fixed delight,
Which bangs on each soft accent heard,
Each look dwelt on, as if the last,
Each well remembered moment, passed,
In her loved sight.
Then hast thou never known, what charm,
Love, to least relic, can impart;
Nor bow, like vine that's sheltered warm,
It spreads its tendrils more and more,
And twines still closer, than before,
Round the fond heart.
Years may roll on. Stern fate may blight
The loveliest visions of the heart;
Then, as such relic, meets the sight,
Fond memory, on the past, will dwell,
And hope, of happier hours, will tell,
Hours, ne'er to part.
Oh not the flower in blooming pride,
At times like this, will most delight:
Gazed on, by many an eye beside,
Admired by some, and praised by all,
Its common charms, but cheaply fall,
On Love's sad sight.
Then, emblem of his own sad lot,
The heart that loves, and loves unblessed,
Will prize the flower by all forgot,
Wrest it from elemental strife,
And press it, like a thing of life,
To his own breast:
And keep it there; that faded rose,
Shut from the cold, and common world;
Till cherished long, at last it grows,
Part of his life, his fondest care,
Like magic word, which none may hear,
None, e'er hath heard.
But oh! if once, in happier hours,
When life was young, and earth seemed heaven,
When every step was stepped on flowers,
And all, to his delighted eyes,
Seemed fair, as primal Paradise,
That flower was given,
By her, who shed on all this scene,
Its light, and life, and loveliness;
Whose eye, his star of hope, had been,
Her smile, the mild and mellowed ray,
That cheered his heart, and lit his way
Think then, how round his heart of hearts,
Relic of love, that flower would twine;
Nor, dearest, ask, tho' time departs,
Though wavelike, year is rolled on year;
Why cherished still, and still, more dear,
This rose of thine.