Rose-Morals

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Rose-Morals
by Sidney Lanier
Sidney Lanier composed this poem in Baltimore, Maryland in 1875.

I. —Red.

Would that my songs might be
      What roses make by day and night—
Distillments of my clod of misery
            Into delight.

Soul, could’st thou bare thy breast
      As yon red rose, and dare the day,
All clean, and large, and calm with velvet rest?
            Say yea—say yea!

Ah, dear my Rose, good-bye;
      The wind is up; so; drift away.
That songs from me as leaves from thee may fly,
            I strive, I pray.

II. —White.

Soul, get thee to the heart
      Of yonder tuberose: hide thee there—
There breathe the meditations of thine art
            Suffused with prayer.

Of spirit grave yet light,
      How fervent fragrances uprise
Pure-born from these most rich and yet most white
            Virginities!

Mulched with unsavory death,
      Grow, Soul! unto such white estate,
That virginal-prayerful art shall be thy breath,
            Thy work, thy fate.