Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!

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Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!  (1854) 
by Stephen Foster
First edition sheet music cover
"Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!" is a parlor song composed by Stephen Foster and published in 1850 by F. D. Benteen of Baltimore. Its themes include "innocent beauty, sentimental longing, and mortality" - all popular topics in mid-Victorian America and ones that appear repeatedly in Foster’s work. The song is set in three strophic verses and in a 6/8 meter. It was composed when Foster was courting Jane McDowell. She was being wooed by a rival lover at the time and the song reveals Foster's uncertainty and longing. It was published three months before Foster and McDowell were wed.
  • Carol Kimball. Song: a guide to art song style and literature. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 249-50

1.
Ah! may the red rose live alway,
  To smile upon earth and sky!
Why should the beautiful ever weep?
  Why should the beautiful die?
Lending a charm to ev'ry ray
  That falls on her cheeks of light,
Giving the zephyr kiss for kiss,
  And nursing the dewdrop bright --
Ah! may the red rose live alway,
  To smile upon earth and sky!
Why should the beautiful ever weep?
  Why should the beautiful die?

2.
Long may the daisies dance the field,
  Frolicking far and near!
Why should the innocent hide their heads?
  Why should the innocent fear?
Spreading their petals in mute delight
  When morn in its radiance breaks,
Keeping a floral festival
  Till the night-loving primrose wakes --
Long may the daisies dance the field,
  Frolicking far and near!
Why should the innocent hide their heads?
  Why should the innocent fear?

3.
Lulled be the dirge in the cypress bough,
  That tells of departed flowers!
Ah! that the butterfly's gilded wing
  Fluttered in evergreen bowers!
Sad is my heart for the blighted plants --
  Its pleasures are aye as brief --
They bloom at the young year's joyful call,
  And fade with the autumn leaf:
Ah! may the red rose live alway,
  To smile upon earth and sky!
Why should the beautiful ever weep?
  Why should the beautiful die?

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.