Ad Rosam.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

"Mitte sectari ROSA quo locorum
Sera moretur."
--Hor. i. 38.


I had a vacant dwelling--
Where situated, I,
As naught can serve the telling,
Decline to specify;--
Enough 'twas neither haunted,
Entailed, nor out of date;
I put up "Tenant Wanted,"
And left the rest to Fate.

Then, Rose, you passed the window,--
I see you passing yet,--
Ah, what could I within do,
When, Rose, our glances met!
You snared me, Rose, with ribbons,
Your rose-mouth made me thrall,
Brief--briefer far than Gibbon's,
Was my "Decline and Fall."

I heard the summons spoken
That all hear--king and clown:
You smiled--the ice was broken;
You stopped--the bill was down.
How blind we are! It never
Occurred to me to seek
If you had come for ever,
Or only for a week.

The words your voice neglected,
Seemed written in your eyes;
The thought your heart protected,
Your cheek told, missal-wise;--
I read the rubric plainly
As any Expert could;
In short, we dreamed,--insanely,
As only lovers should.

I broke the tall Oenone,
That then my chambers graced,
Because she seemed "too bony,"
To suit your purist taste;
And you, without vexation,
May certainly confess
Some graceful approbation,
Designed à mon adresse.

You liked me then, carina,--
You liked me then, I think;
For your sake gall had been a
Mere tonic-cup to drink;
For your sake, bonds were trivial,
The rack, a tour-de-force;
And banishment, convivial,--
You coming too, of course.

Then, Rose, a word in jest meant
Would throw you in a state
That no well-timed investment
Could quite alleviate;
Beyond a Paris trousseau
You prized my smile, I know,
I, yours--ah, more than Rousseau
The lip of d'Houdetot.

Then, Rose,--But why pursue it?
When Fate begins to frown
Best write the final "fuit,"
And gulp the physic down.
And yet,--and yet, that only,
The song should end with this:--
You left me,--left me lonely,
Rosa mutabilis!

Left me, with Time for Mentor,
(A dreary tête-à-tête!)
To pen my "Last Lament," or
Extemporize to Fate,
In blankest verse disclosing
My bitterness of mind,--
Which is, I learn, composing
In cases of the kind.

No, Rose. Though you refuse me,
Culture the pang prevents;
"I am not made"--excuse me--
"Of so slight elements;"
I leave to common lovers
The hemlock or the hood;
My rarer soul recovers
In dreams of public good.

The Roses of this nation--
Or so I understand
From careful computation--
Exceed the gross demand;
And, therefore, in civility
To maids that can't be matched,
No man of sensibility
Should linger unattached.

So, without further fashion--
A modern Curtius,
Plunging, from pure compassion,
To aid the overplus,--
I sit down, sad--not daunted,
And, in my weeds, begin
A new card--"Tenant Wanted;
Particulars within."

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