White Rose [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bells and Hobbles (1911).]

White Rose.

Once in a garden wondrous fair —
Do you remember yet? —
We drank the sweet, seductive air
Of musk and mignonette.

For you and me the flowers and
The leaves their glories shed,
And all the world was Wonderland
Wherever we might tread.

The drooping lilacs and the stocks,
The pansies, tender-eyed,
The foolish, flaunting hollyhocks,
The maiden daisies pied,

The peony with painted face,
The star-like cornflower blue,
And blooms of tender tropic grace,
Their soft reflections threw.

The brave hibiscus burned and bled,
The gladioli flared —
Like lamps of love, to guide, you said,
Our footsteps as we fared.

Have you forgotten how we stood
Beneath an aspen tree,
To see the sun beyond the wood
Go down in royalty?

One tall white rose beside us paid
Her homage to the sun;
Till on her virgin mouth he laid
Red tribute meekly won.

Then your dear mouth I claimed in fee —
White Rose, can you forget —
Thou Flower of All-the-World to me
Who art forever yet —

That fragrance falling in the dusk,
Those trembling aspen leaves,
The subtle languor, born of musk
And scented-lily sheaves?

The stars above us deeply grew
In numbers, one by one,
Your hair was jewelled with the dew . . .
And all the world went on!

Ah not again, again, again,
That Garden of Delight
Shall hear the footsteps of us twain
Fall gently in the night.

The desert of our stony fate
No fair love-fragrance knows;
We turned us from our Eden’s gate. . .
God keep us both — White Rose.

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 140-141

Editor’s notes:
art = (archaic) are

Eden = a place or situation which is regarded as a paradise; the Garden of Eden, mentioned in the Bible

hollyhocks = flowering plants of the genus Alcea

mignonette = a genus of fragrant herbaceous plants (also known as Reseda); the mignonette tree (also known as the henna tree, the Egyptian privet, or Lawsonia inermis); the mignonette vine (also known as the Madeira-vine or Anredera cordifolia)

peony = a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, which is native to Asia, Europe and Western North America (also spelt: paeony)

pied = having two or more different colours, especially in blotches (e.g. pied clothing, fur, feathers); wearing regarding clothing of two or more different colours (e.g. the pied piper); regarding birds, “pied” usually refers to a black and white appearance (e.g. magpies)

thou = (archaic) you

twain = (archaic) two (from the Old English word “twegen”, meaning “two”); especially known for the phrase “never the twain shall meet” (from the line “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, as used by the poet Rudyard Kipling, at the start of the poem “The Ballad of East and West”, which was included in Barrack-room Ballads and Other Verses, 1892)

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