Do you want a rose? You may have a rose,
A nightingale, an August moon, a view
across the Ponte Vecchio.
No doubt the things they signify are true,
As they were true when Rome was young
And votaries of Melpomene had sung
of roses only for a hundred thousand years.
The lovers’ symbols that the Hallmark dealt
Like suits of clichés from a musty pack
Can never wish you what your natures felt;
Just offer echoes of the passion’s pulse they lack.
And is there man alive with heart so weak
That he believes his love and he are not unique?
The secrets that our loves confess
Persist beneath our silences’ disguise
In absent-mind caress,
The hundred words told in a roll of eyes
Or barely-murmured “yes”.
No pithy quote or platitude encloses
The secretive lacunae where your meanings match.
By all means strew your roses,
But build your love from scratch.