A Ballade of Barren Roses

THERE sounds his step receding on the stair,
The bridegroom’s, that my love could not detain,
For whose captivity the woman’s snare
Of veilèd brows, was woven all in vain.
A rose I held he keeps with tender care.
Tell him, dear Jesu, that no blossom blows,
For its own beauty, howsoever rare.
The Lord of Life loves not a barren rose.
The destiny of roses is to bear
Their scarlet fruit through drear autumnal rain,
And hold upon the crystal drifting air
Of winter days, the cups that pour again
New springtime loveliness for earth to wear,
When all the verdure now her bounds inclose
Is gone forever, lily with the tare.
For this our Lord loves not a barren rose.
What thought of his is left for me to share,
Aroused from that rapt dream in which we twain
Lighted our little lamps of joy, to flare
Along a single path to Love’s domain?
Will he, in that mysterious region where
The ruby chalice on his vision glows,
Exceeding all the stars, remembrance spare
To one his Lord loves not, a barren rose?


Oh, Mystic Rose, the Heart of Jesu, fair
Creative source from which all beauty flows,
Ever transfusing Love, hear now my prayer:
Resume, for love’s own sake, one barren rose.