The Book of the Rose

by Charles G.D. Roberts




My life she takes between her hands;
My spirit at her feet
Is taught the lore inscrutable,
The wisdom bitter sweet.

The world becomes a little thing;


Art, travel, music, men,
And all that these can ever give
Are in her brow's white ken.

I look into her eyes and learn
The mystery of tears;


The pang of doubt; the doom that haunts
The fleeting of the years;

And pale foreknowledge, hid from all
But those who fear to know;
And memory's treason, that betrays


Joy to the nameless woe;

Compassion, like the rain of spring;
And truth without a flaw;
And one great gladness, hushed and still
With love's initiate awe.


In her deep hair I hide my heart;
And in that scented shade
I sail sleep's immemorial sea,
Expectant, unafraid;

And take the enigmatic word


Of dream upon my breath,
And learn the secrecy of joy,
The long content of death.

Her sad mouth, scarlet, passionate,
Shows me the world's desire,


The mirth that is the mask of pain,
And that immortal fire

Drawn by the touch of kiss on kiss
From life's eternal core,
Frail, flickering, mordant, keen, unquenched


When time shall be no more.

Then worship, love's last wisdom, learned,
I bow my spirit there,
And let my soul in silence plead
The passion which is prayer.