The Departure of the Roses poem by David W. Mitchell


The Departure of the Roses

Once upon a sullen fable,

In that day far beyond

The reach of sallow hoarding,

In that time when the land grew

Poets with a grand abandon fit

For unfettered forests, sprawling them

Across the pagescapes of ten thousand

Headless mechanicians’ tidy dreams,

On that very day when fully espaliered

Bondage was achieved, the roses turned

Their backs on well-fed, well-groomed

Lives of perfect symmetry and bolted

For the thickets of disorder,

Where they burrowed thornily

Into the heart of some brawling

Literature not yet imagined.

Only the brave can find them now,

Sepulchered in metaphor and brazen

Assonance, holding hostages whose

Fear can be heard on any wind,

As order’s invented dust and ashes endure

The torrential laughing languages of

Passion, communion, and a solipsistic sun.

Even so, the last madmen still dare the

Briar and the bramble, thirsting

For the secret perfumery of summers

Lost and songs unsung: legend has it

That one of them, blessed of tongue,

Will someday coax the roses to return.
***


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