Rose Petal

You came to me from rose vermilion red;
so rude and flushed with health you seemed to be.
I was surprised when I discerned instead
your disposition was no longer free;
that, whilst you were so moist and soft, I then
with sadness realised your life was spent;
that you had chosen me as your last fen
between your zenith and your final rent.

What price for love you had to pay, and stain
upon your beauteous journey through short life,
so full of human tragedy and pain;
so savaged by our ugliness and strife.

And yet, you gift us your perfume unkempt
and beauty, which our hideousness preempts.

© 2011 John Anstie

(Read the author’s commentary on this poem)

12 Responses to Rose Petal

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    May I ask: I think I understand that this is a conversation with a Rose, but is there an analogy? I don’t follow the lines:
    “so full of human tragedy and pain;
    so savaged by our ugliness and strife.”

    I loved the rose part — but puzzled here. Thanx for helping a learner.


    • PoetJanstie says:

      Sabio, firstly, thank you for paying me the compliment of reading my poem.

      In answer to your question, I agree that I have embedded human experience and frailty into the piece. The rose petal and the rose from which it came, are, as it were, an innocent witness to the best and the very worst that human beings perpetrate on the natural world by their own selfishness and greed. It may also help you to read a commentary I wrote for my other blog over at:


      • Sabio Lantz says:

        Yeah, Janstie, I guess I just didn’t understand how the rose was suppose to understand anything about “the selfishness and greed of human beings.”

        I thought, “Was it because the rose was picked?” Then I read the link you supplied and it seemed that you imagined the rose witnessing everything and thus apologized to the rose. You made the rose omniscient — that is what I missed. Now I get it, thanx.

        Here is your quote, for other readers:

        What happened was that a small petal – a deep vermilion rose petal – blew in on a light breeze and landed on my sleeve. I could have brushed it off without thinking, but, for a moment, I just looked at it, admired it for what it really was and my thoughts focussed, for some reason known only to my right brain, on what had happened in the world during the short life of the rose from which it had come; what war, human misery and treachery had occurred in that short time; but also what good had been done; what valiant efforts to keep the peace in war-torn countries of the world; what individual moments of heroism and courage had been demonstrated by a soldier, activist, newshound or aid worker somewhere out there.


  2. The rose – an Elizabethan symbol, England’s rose, the war of the roses – the rose to me a personal symbol – my mother’s flower, stamped, sewn, painted, embossed and engraved on so many of her things that have come to me that now others think they are “my” symbol [though mine was ever a marguerite as my baptismal name is Margaret].

    Beyond that its shape shared by the shape of atoms, and nebulas – not a circle but a spiral, ever unfolding, explicating the cosmos, for me a sureness of the deity. I re-read the article you linked and your post script – a plea for life to live, as it must, for if there is a God– surely what links us to Him is that stuff which is life itself.

    Your sonnet compacts that philosophy in a perfect Shakespearean/Elizabethan sonnet. Noble, royal and elegant. Itself reflecting that which makes English the most human of languages – a sponge absorbing other thoughts, other languages, other forms reaching out around the globe, clumsy, stumbling but mostly curious, intelligent and probing! Excellent work.


    • PoetJanstie says:

      Gay, that is one very full comment and I am much complimented by the time you’ve taken to write it. Funnily enough, I still like this poem for what it means to me. Fact that it is a Shakespearean sonnet, gives it a certain classical cache and, as such is very pleasing. Your article and all the poems written by the others for dVerse Poets last week has added so much depth to the importance and variety of this poetic form. This is something that we should all be grateful for that dVerse Poets Pub has been so consistently good at doing.

      Thank you very much again, Gay.


  3. claudia says:

    between flourishing and fading…wow…you captured the beauty of the in between for sure..


  4. brian miller says:

    wow…this is beautiful….love the allusions to the rose….vermillion is a fav word for sure….and the moist…yet at the end of life….this was really stirring..nicely dont to form…


  5. Clearly suggests that poem is more then about a rose!


  6. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words says:

    shows the grace of a rose….

    Take care…


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