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The Singing Rose

'La Rose qui chante et l'herbe qui egare.'

White Rose on the grey garden wall,
Where now no night-wind whispereth,
Call to the far-off flowers, and call
With murmured breath and musical
Till all the Roses hear, and all
Sing to my Love what the White Rose saith.

White Rose on the grey garden wall
That long ago we sung!
Again you come at Summer's call,--
Again beneath my windows all
With trellised flowers is hung,
With clusters of the roses white
Like fragrant stars in a green night.

Once more I hear the sister towers
Each unto each reply,
The bloom is on those limes of ours,
The weak wind shakes the bloom in showers,
Snow from a cloudless sky;
There is no change this happy day
Within the College Gardens grey!

St. Mary's, Merton, Magdalen--still
Their sweet bells chime and swing,
The old years answer them, and thrill
A wintry heart against its will
With memories of the Spring--
That Spring we sought the gardens through
For flowers which ne'er in gardens grew!

For we, beside our nurse's knee,
In fairy tales had heard
Of that strange Rose which blossoms free
On boughs of an enchanted tree,
And sings like any bird!
And of the weed beside the way
That leadeth lovers' steps astray!

In vain we sought the Singing Rose
Whereof old legends tell,
Alas, we found it not mid those
Within the grey old College close,
That budded, flowered, and fell,--
We found that herb called 'Wandering'
And meet no more, no more in Spring!

Yes, unawares the unhappy grass
That leadeth steps astray,
We trod, and so it came to pass
That never more we twain, alas,
Shall walk the self-same way.
And each must deem, though neither knows,
That NEITHER found the Singing Rose!

Andrew Lang