Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE POET'S JOURNAL: CHURCHYARD ROSES, by BAYARD TAYLOR

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THE POET'S JOURNAL: CHURCHYARD ROSES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The woodlands wore a gloomy green
Last Line: Of love, that death has sanctified!
Alternate Author Name(s): Taylor, James Bayard
Subject(s): Beauty; Death; Flowers; Forests; Love; Roses; Dead, The; Woods

THE woodlands wore a gloomy green,
The tawny stubble clad the hill,
And August hung her smoky screen
Above the valleys, hot and still.

No life was in the fields that day;
My steps were safe from curious eyes
I wandered where, in churchyard clay,
The dust of love and beauty lies.

Around me thrust the nameless graves
Their fatal ridges, side by side,
So green, they seemed but grassy waves,
Yet quiet as the dead they hide.

And o'er each pillow of repose
Some innocent memento grew,
Of pansy, pink, or lowly rose,
Or hyssop, lavender, and rue.

What flower is hers, the maiden bride?
What sacred plant protects her bed?
I saw, the greenest mound beside,
A rose of dark and lurid red.

An eye of fierce demoniac stain,
It mocked my calm and chastened grief;
I tore it, stung with sudden pain,
And stamped in earth each bloody leaf.

And down upon that trampled grave
In recklessness my body cast:
"Give back the life I could not save,
Or give deliverance from the Past!"

But something gently touched my cheek,
Caressing while its touch reproved:
A rose, all white and snowy-meek,
It grew upon the dust I loved!

A breeze the holy blossom pressed
Upon my lips: dear Saint, I cried,
Still blooms the white rose, in my breast
Of Love, that Death has sanctified!

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