The Unuttered Poetry of Rose

Flame Rose

Is there a consummation
lit by awe
reserved for me?
Oh, when will I go up –
up flames like steps of stone –
I who never told my banal yearnings no
to let the heat mount up?
I who am built low and squat
but now see lines that rise and soar –
who never knew I longed to be a pyre,
who never fanned my spirit’s fire?

A god, as it turns out,
is not a thing to grovel to.
You taller stand that he is tall
and if you kneel, it’s not to gain a stay of judgment.
Kneel for beauty! all your days
and sing, not that he spares but that he is.

Between the housing rows a flash of blue;
between my thoughts the spark of you.

I turn, but I’m too clumped, unstirred, ungainly still
If you stand near me, well, I don’t know where!
Gutted I am and starved, my engine cold, my fuel drained.

What is my fuel but this one, standing here?
My engine but love? Now it mounts up,
the unkilling conflagration, all my spoiling structures
turned to scaffolding of light,
my weeping to a universal score,
all for love of this one, standing here.

Now I go, and care not what I spend
of bodily strength or substance –
of time, that is my heartbeat measured out.

O lord of time!
Be my unsorrowing companion
that I may laugh with you.



  1. After reading the poem a few times and liking it , feeling along, close to the person talking–you initially, but if I hadn’t met you, sort of, I would still experience a meeting of persons: this poem does that for me,

    but then–after my readings–i started thinking about the title and its lovely accompanying graphic. Could the flower be saying all this? No, so I think, maybe Rose is a person’s name, the person talking in the poem, because flowers don’t do well with fire. No doubt I’m way off–im sure that a rose must be some sort of traditional mystical symbol. In fact. . . I remember reading Umberto Eco, but it was so long ago. Then I found this from his Postscript to “The Name of the Rose” “… the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left”. –a postmodern approach, which you probably disavow. So I’m still thinking about this.

    My other puzzle is the other half of the poem, not the speaker with her unique perspective, but the point-of-viewed person, the one being addressed. First there’s “you,” referring, I presume, back to the speaker (like she is talking to herself) or to persons in general; then there’s “he” but he quickly turns into a single “you”; then there’s “this one, standing here” who finally is revealed as royalty, in this case “lord of time.” If this is not God, he is certainly a powerful spiritual presence, mysterious, uplifting, not one to be grovelled at, or to.

    Now I’m not going to fall into the same mistake I did in past discussions (I.e., jumping to religion, or at least religious faith, as the key to fully understanding the poem) although it’s tempting. Instead I’ll concentrate more on the rose itself, and the fire, and the reference to time at the end. This approach brings me to . . . continue reading the poem, and rereading as if it were a song that only needs to be sung, not talked about, not picked apart, “unpacked,” catalogued–as if the importance lies in thought alone rather than in the deeper sources of meaning.

    This poem is, feels like, a song about faith (whether religious, aesthetic, or simply personal), a faith that proceeds from and rescues ordinary human weakness. The little prayer at the end calls for hope and light in a dark world.


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