Asking for Roses, by Robert Frost

Time, I think,  for another snap of my garden – this time the back yard.  One sense the internet isn’t very good at satisfying yet is that of smell – if Mr. Jobs could devise an Application that could reproduce the scent of these blooms at the prod of a button I’d consider saving up for one of his iPhones, though that would, in truth, take me a very long time.  


June Roses

Seaching for a poem to go with them, I discover that there is fairly general agreement among the poets on the subject of roses.  They are not long (the days of wine and roses), they (the buds in particular) need to be gathered while we may, they are generally very prone to canker and worms (invisble or otherwise) and deliquesce too quickly.  They do, though, have the advantage that they and their perfume linger long in the memory.  All true, and all handy tips for the amateur gardener.  The largest blooms here were buds only a week ago, and the oldest have already had their time on earth.

This one is by Robert Frost, and contains a tip of the hat to my old favourite (and rose-specialist) Robert Herrick.  My house isn’t quite as untidy as the one in the poem.

Asking for Roses, by Robert Frost

A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.

I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
‘I wonder,’ I say, ‘who the owner of those is.’
‘Oh, no one you know,’ she answers me airy,
‘But one we must ask if we want any roses.’

So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.

‘Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?’
‘Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
‘Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
‘Tis summer again; there’s two come for roses.

‘A word with you, that of the singer recalling–
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’

We do not loosen our hands’ intertwining
(Not caring so very much what she supposes),
There when she comes on us mistily shining
And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.


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