Long ago, all roses were white
Like ivory or snow;
Seafoam on the crest of a wave
Like a dove's plume to show.
For one sultry summer twilight,
A small, russet-brown bird
Encountered a beautiful Rose,
And in his heart, love stirred.
All birds could then just poorly cry
But his love was too strong:
Music filled his throat, and he was
First inspired to song.
Each soft evening, he flew to her
And he sang of romance,
Whilst she shivered and thrilled to hear,
But she forsook the chance.
The White Rose feared him and his love,
This singing Nightingale.
For he, a bird, and she, a bloom,
A love was doomed to fail.
Dusk brought the bird to sing for her:
Once more he gave a trill
That spoke of longing and despair,
And the Rose felt a chill.
The Nightingale's love consumed him.
He thought of nothing else
But her silk petals and perfume,
Her secret, hidden cells.
Through a storm of wild fury,
He struggled to the Rose:
"My darling, my winter-white bride,
My life is rife with woes.
I can no longer bear this life
Without your gentle love."
And moved with pity, she sighed low,
Trembling, white as a dove.
The gods looked on unhappily,
The bird began to pine.
The Rose began to open, but
Before he saw a sign,
Full of sorrow, he pressed himself
To her slender green stem.
Beneath a leaf lay her sharp thorn--
A ruby drop--a red gem.
For this was a love paid in blood;
The thorn had pierced his heart.
He had looked for love, but found death
Upon her cruellest dart.
After the storm, the moon shone down,
Reflected off the flood,
On the rain-washed corpse of a bird,
And a Rose--red with blood.
Petals of the deepest crimson,
No more hue of the dove.
She bears the passions, and he, the song
Of a forbidden love.