A Rose in the Mouth

In his Journals for 1896. André Gide mentions that Francis Jammes gave him his own walking-stick; on which were caned, lengthwisecarious verses. Among them iwre the lines: “Un écureuil avail une rose à la bouche, Un âne le traita de fou.”

“WHY do you climb the trees with a rose in your mouth,
When you might be down here with me, eating the grass;
How can you dream of the scented, the lily-long lazy south.
When you might be collecting and numbering nuts in the north
For a winter that has no end?” asked the ass.
Said the squirrel, “My nuts are the stars:
Towards them I climb. You are clamped to the earth.
In a moment I’ll pell you with planets, with Mars
And with Venus, till even you see
Why I wear a rose in my mouth!
Only a symbol, the rose in my mouth,”
Mocked the squirrel.
“My heart is it rose. I’ve it rose in my blood as well,
And the top of my tree, my ivory tower, discloses
The whole of the world as valleys and mountains of roses.”
“No! The world is a map made solely for ant and for ass.
For I roll, and thus from the feel of my fur, I can tell,”
Brayed the donkey, “We offer no flowers, only grass,
With blood, sweat and tears; then a shroud,
And the cheers of the crowd.”
“My heart is a rose,” repeated the leaping squirrel,
“ I’ve a rose in my blood as well! ”
But the rose in his mouth was the blood
As he fell.