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My Winter Rose
Alfred Austin


Why did you come when the trees were bare?
Why did you come with the wintry air?
When the faint note dies in the robin's throat,
And the gables drip and the white flakes float?

What a strange, strange season to choose to come,
When the heavens are blind and the earth is dumb:
When nought is left living to dirge the dead,
And even the snowdrop keeps its bed!

Could you not come when woods are green?
Could you not come when lambs are seen?
When the primrose laughs from its childlike sleep,
And the violets hide and the bluebells peep?

When the air as your breath is sweet, and skies
Have all but the soul of your limpid eyes,
And the year, growing confident day by day,
Weans lusty June from the breast of May?

Yet had you come then, the lark had lent
In vain his music, the thorn its scent,
In vain the woodbine budded, in vain
The rippling smile of the April rain.

Your voice would have silenced merle and thrush,
And the rose outbloomed would have blushed to blush,
And Summer, seeing you, paused, and known
That the glow of your beauty outshone its own.

So, timely you came, and well you chose,
You came when most needed, my winter rose.
From the snow I pluck you, and fondly press
Your leaves 'twixt the leaves of my leaflessness.

This poem is in the public domain.


At his parents’ insistence, British poet Alfred Austin (1835 – 1913) became a lawyer (a barrister, in English terms), but the moment his father died and the young man’s inheritance was in hand, he turned his back on law and pursued his true passion: poetry. Both critics and public opinion rate Austin as a mediocre poet, at best, but it was his arrogance and penchant for trashing his more successful peers--established poets such as Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson—that made him the subject of many jokes in the literary circles of his day. Austin had the last laugh, however, as he managed to become England’s poet laureate after Tennyson died, when no other poet was willing or deemed worthy to take the position.


Post New Comment:
Phyllis Beckman:
Sigh! In a good way. Phyllis Beckman
Posted 12/27/2010 06:01 AM

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