a rose is a rose, Altissimo, Arthur Bell, Bobby Charlton, Bourbon, centrifoliate, Duke of Windsor, gathering rosebuds, Grandpa Dickson, Handel, hybrid, Josephine, Lilli Marlene, Madame Butterfly, Malmaison, musk, Paul, Persephone, Picasso, Pluto, Queen Elizabeth, Rob Roy, rose-coloured spectacles, Sarabande, Scherzo, St Rose of Viterbo, Uncle Walter, Violet Carson
From over 20 years ago. They say it has been a bumper year for roses.
In that quiet period which precedes dusk,
I ramble in my rose garden, inspecting every bloom-
whether it be centrifoliate, Bourbon, tea or musk
and feel for poor Persephone, who met her doom
while gathering flowers. Then, somewhat galled,
with secateurs in hand, I prune Picasso’s shape
and de-shoot Bobby Charlton; snip off Rob Roy’s balled
pompoms-all to avenge her rape.
I see The Duke of Windsor has reverted to his roots;
he’s mainly sucker. His infestation calls for a systemic,
to safeguard Queen Elizabeth and, if it suits,
his exile to another bed, to stall an epidemic.
Catharsis calms me, so I conduct and orchestrate
Handel, Sarabande and Scherzo. Altissimo’s too flush:
but such a quality I always tolerate
in any standard, climber, hybrid bush.
Would a rose by any other word smell quite the same?
If Violet Carson, Uncle Walter, Grandpa Dickson, Arthur Bell
should be compared to Madame Butterfly, or the lush Lilli Marlene?
Did jilted Josephine’s sterility inspire Malmaison’s cultivation?
Did she feel that floral beauty compensated for the tolling of Love’s knell;
comprehend, with Paul, that fleshly thorns are inherent in all exaltation?
Lovers believe no canker will attack their pedicels
and, like St Rose of Viterbo, their love will know no putrefaction.
If so, they look at Life through rose-tinted spectacles:
for Pluto may make bargains, but he still culls with satisfaction.
But, if a stem has never blossomed, then it might as well be briar
(the poets said)
and, with the unproductive fig, be destined for the fire-
else we must be what we must be: ripeness is all.
For a rose is a rose is a rose – evanescent beauty is its call.