The Book of the Rose

by Charles G.D. Roberts




O Voice,
Whose sound is as the falling of the rain
On harp-strings strung in casements by the sea,
Low with all passion, poignant with all pain,
In dreams, out of thy distance, come to me.

I hear no music if I hear not thee.

O Hands,
Whose touch is like the balm of apple-bloom
Brushed by the winds of April from the bough,
Amid the passionate memories of this room


Flower out, sweet hands, a presence in the gloom,
And touch my longing mouth and cool my brow.

O Eyes,
Whose least look is a flame within my soul,
(Still burns that first long look, across the years!)


Lure of my life, and my desire's control,
Illume me and my darkness disappears.
Seeing you not, my eyes see naught for tears.

O Lips,
The rose's lovelier sisters, you whose breath


Seems the consummate spirit of the rose—
Honey and fire, delirium and repose,
And that long dream of love that laughs at death—
All these, all these your scarlet blooms enclose.

O Hair,

Whose shadows hold the mystery of a shrine
Heavy with vows and worship, where the pale
Priests who pour out their souls in incense pine
For dead loves unforgot—be thou the veil
To my heart's altar, secret and divine.

O Voice, O Hands, O Eyes, O Lips, O Hair,
Of your strange beauty God Himself hath care,
So deep the riddle He hath wrought therein—
Whether for love's delight, or love's despair.