new zealand electronic poetry centre

Ursula Bethell

online works



I have told you much of the flowers in my garden
And many yet remain of which I have not told
But when I would tell you of the roses, the roses –
When it comes to the roses, how should I find words?

Yet to them I would consecrate a few faltering sentences
As they grow in their companies by colour and by kind.
Did I but enumerate the tale of chosen roses,
It would surely bring, to the chosen listener, joy.

Their names may be recorded but what record might be given
Of their symmetry, spell-binding scents, the depth
And gradual brilliance of eye-reposing hue?
No need, no need, when one speaks the word roses, roses,
All their beauty and significance is spoken too.

Roses of Persia, Roses of Damascus;
Roses held up for sale in Piccadilly Circus;
Roses for queens’ bedchambers, and the costermongers’ holiday;
Roses for the tender babe’s first apprehensions
And for the sage’s mystic contemplations;
Roses for marriage pomps, and the dear maid’s untimely bier;
Roses for fame, pride, joy, romance,
Rapture, remembrance, solace in sore pain;
Symbols of secrecy, truth, love, holiness;
Roses on the green graves of our mortality,
Roses by the green walks of the New Jerusalem –

So, to all you, my lovely roses, Hail


From a Garden in the Antipodes (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1929)


Last updated 9 April, 2005