The scarlet roses quiver in the wind :
See how they wanton it! They nod , they sway —
Rose of the world , would that my soul had sinned
In thinking you as fair and false as they .
So silken-soft , so delicate , so sweet ,
Rose of the world , my rose without a thorn!
Your soul black-spotted , cankered with deceit
Unfittingly to that fair shape was born .
Spread no silk petals to bewitch my gaze ,
Think not to drowse my soul in scented bliss :
Rose of the world , I come not now to praise ,
Not now to scorn all heaven for a kiss —
In mercy with this message am I sent :
‘Rose of the world , the winter comes : repent .’
22 September 1952
[On the reverse of The Widower’s Friend You mourn her now ? My fate is no less hard]
A sweet sin was it long ago I sinned —
My heart roved truant from my native shire :
I heard the poplars rustle in the wind
And dreamed of waves that beat upon a shore .
Now in the weeds I sway for ever more ;
My bones in that green shroud are closely wound :
I hear the unquiet sea upon the shore ,
And dream of trees that rustle in the wind .
14th September 1952
[On the same sheet as Not when the sunlit blue of summer seas ]
The Dark Tower
My lady , Roland will not come today :
Turn from your turret window — gaze no more
Down through the twilight to that path unknown
Winding from nameless woods of doubt and dread :
Thin on the wind your prayer for him is blown
To those dim regions where his soul is fled :
Believe his body stretched where the salt spray
Showers mournfully along some rocky shore ;
His hair is matted now , his lips are grey —
Fling yourself headlong on the ice-cold floor ,
Sweep with your silken hair the dusty stone .
Press close to chill the fever of your head :
You are alone . I say , you are alone ;
The twisted staircase echoes not his tread .
Only the wind that bears your prayer away
Rattles the latchet of your chamber door .
My lady , hoofbeats thunder on the road —
Roland is dead — now nearer, and now here :
Mailed feet ring on the cobbles — he is dead ,
Roland is dead — they clatter on the stair ,
The latchet moves — and Roland’s ams are spread
To gather up a fainting , precious load :
“I have braved fire and flood for you , most dear ,
For you fought griffin , whale and unicorn —
Nay , cheerly , sweeting , weep not — I have bled
To reach a dark tower and to find you there :
Dear love , I see no cause for tears , ” he said .
11th September 1952
Rising from sable clouds the moon
More sweetly can beguile ;
By night your beauty cast aside her veil ,
Most sweetly mine :
For I by loving sought your love to gain ,
Importunate as any nightingale ,
Nor loved in vain .
By you I steered my midnight heart ,
Nor feared my course to lose ,
Nor like a lake-borne truant , to capsize
At an owl’s hoot :
No idle terror could obscure your light ;
Which soon the grim fog that still brooding lies
Blotted from sight .
I wear away the interlune ,
Secure , as one who goes
Surefooted on his dark accustomed ways ,
Bravely alone :
Ever in hope to see you rise again
Yet lovelier , yet brighter to my gaze ,
No more to wane .
3rd September 1952