When last I saw this opening rose
That holds the summer in its hand,
And with its beauty overflows
And sweetens half a shire of land,
It was a black and cindered thing,
Drearily rocking in the cold,
The relic of a vanished spring,
A rose abominably old.
Amid the stainless snows it grinned,
A foul and withered shape, that cast
Ribbed shadows, and the gleaming wind
Went rattling through it as it passed;
It filled the heart with a strange dread,
Hag-like, it made a whimpering sound,
And gibbered like the wandering dead
In some unhallowed burial-ground.
Whoso on that December day
Had seen it so deject and lorn,
So lone a symbol of decay,
Had dreamed of it this summer morn?
Divined the power that should relume
A flame so spent, and once more bring
That blackened being back to bloom, -
Who could have dreamed so strange a thing?