Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe



[On an Opera Dancer’s Skirt.]


Sweet Rose that each voluptuous whirl
    With deeper blushes dyes,
As soars yon frail but lovely girl
With locks of jet and teeth of pearl,
    Before our wondering eyes.

I wish thy leaves had perished where
    In innocence they bloom’d, [Page 162]
Wasting upon the desert air
Their charming tints and perfume rare,
    Nor to this fate been doom’d.

How oft upon the Rose I’ve dwelt
    With exquisite delight,
How oft to catch its odor knelt,
But ne’er the mix’d sensations felt,
    It conjures up to-night.

I’ve seen it nestling in the lace
    The timid Maid had thrown
Above the snowy orbs of grace
Where sin had found no resting place,
    Nor broke the virgin zone.

Above the Bride’s unsullied brow
    I’ve seen it lightly wove,
While solemn word and whisper’d vow,—
The cheerful scene’s before me now,—
    Gave latitude to love.

I’ve seen it scatter’d o’er the tomb
    Where little children lay,
Type of their beauty and their bloom,
Their withering charms and early doom,
    As fair and fleet as they.

Whenever met, the Rose has been
    My cherish’d fav’rite flower;
The ornament of every scene,
With vermeil tint and foliage green,
    And beauty for its dower. [Page 163]

But, dangling to that gauze-like dress
    That scarce a limb conceals,
That woos, in very wantonness,
The fetid zephyr’s rude caress,
    And every charm reveals.

It seems to feel the sad disgrace,
    And blushes deeper red;
Another round it may not trace,
Its leaves, dishonor’d, o’er the place
    In parting showers are shed.

1838. [Page 164]