The Rose's Secret

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

When down the west the new moon slipped,
A curved canoe that dipped and tipped,
When from the rose the dewdrop dripped,
As if it shed its heart's blood slow;
As softly silent as a star
I climbed a lattice that I know,
A window lattice, held ajar
By one slim hand as white as snow:
The hand of her who set me here,
A rose, to bloom from year to year.

I, who have heard the bird of June
Sing all night long beneath the moon;
I, who have heard the zephyr croon
Soft music 'mid spring's avenues,
Heard then a sweeter sound than these,
Among the shadows and the dews
A heart that beat like any bee's,
Sweet with a name and I know whose:
Her heart that, leaning, pressed on me,
A rose, she never looked to see.

O star and moon! O wind and bird!
Ye hearkened, too, but never heard
The secret sweet, the whispered word
I heard, when by her lips his name
Was murmured. Then she saw me there!
But that I heard was I to blame?
Whom in the darkness of her hair
She thrust since I had heard the same:
Condemned within its deeps to lie,
A rose, imprisoned till I die.

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