The Mossrose

A poem by Henry Newbolt

Walking to-day in your garden, O gracious lady,
Little you thought as you turned in that alley remote and shady,
And gave me a rose and asked if I knew its savour--
The old-world scent of the mossrose, flower of a bygone favour--

Little you thought as you waited the word of appraisement,
Laughing at first and then amazed at my amazement,
That the rose you gave was a gift already cherished,
And the garden whence you plucked it a garden long perished.

But I--I saw that garden, with its one treasure
The tiny mossrose, tiny even by childhood's measure,
And the long morning shadow of the dusty laurel,
And a boy and a girl beneath it, flushed with a childish quarrel.

She wept for her one little bud: but he, outreaching
The hand of brotherly right, would take it for all her beseeching:
And she flung her arms about him, and gave like a sister,
And laughed at her own tears, and wept again when he kissed her.

So the rose is mine long since, and whenever I find it
And drink again the sharp sweet scent of the moss behind it,
I remember the tears of a child, and her love and her laughter,
And the morning shadows of youth and the night that fell thereafter.

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