Red-Rose Tree

A poem by Robert Browning (1812-1889) dedicated to women and roses.

 

The dream of a red-rose tree.

And which of its roses three

Is the dearest rose to me?

Round and round, like a dance of snow

In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go

Floating the women faded for ages,

Sculptured in stone, on the poet’s pages.

Then follow women fresh and gay,

Living and loving and loved to-day.

Last, in the rear, flee the multitude of maidens,

Beauties yet unborn. And all, to one cadence,

They circle their rose on my rose tree.

 

Dear rose, thy term is reached,

Thy leaf hangs loose and bleached:

Bees pass it unimpeached.

Stay then, stoop, since I cannot climb,

You, great shapes of the antique time!

How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you,

Break my heart at your feet to please you?

Oh, to possess and be possessed!

Hearts that beat ‘neath each pallid breast!

Once but of love, the poesy, the passion,

Drink but once and die! – In vain, the same fashion,

They circle their rose on my rose tree.