Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
John Davidson. 1857–1909
  
851. 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,         5
O'er-petall'd the world. 
 
Its odourless pallor 
Blossom'd forlorn, 
Till radiant valour 
Establish'd the morn—  10
Till the night 
Was undone 
In her fight 
With the sun. 
 
The brave orb in state rose,  15
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.  20
 
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  25
Rebloom'd in the night, 
And spectrally white 
  In the light 
Of the moon lay. 
 
But the vast rose  30
  Was scentless, 
And this is the reason: 
When the blast rose 
  Relentless, 
And brought in due season  35
The snow rose, the last rose 
Congeal'd in its breath, 
Then came with it treason; 
The traitor was Death. 
 
In lee-valleys crowded,  40
The sheep and the birds 
Were frozen and shrouded 
In flights and in herds. 
In highways 
And byways  45
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,  50
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.  55
 
 
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