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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


La Rose de Sens

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

ROSE de Sens, I saw you blooming

By the gray cathedral door,

When the shadows of the morning

Fell athwart the marble floor;

And the marketwomen softly

Up the pillared aisles did pass,

With their caps as white as snowdrift,

On their way to early Mass.

But the pavement of the market

Was alight with every hue

Which the darling flowers could muster,

As they trimmed their lamps anew!

’T was an early day in April

When I bought the precious thing;

But the beauty of the blossoms

Made a summer of the spring!

Rose de Sens, we bore you softly,

As the sunnier days came on,

Far from your native meadows,

In the valley of the Yonne;

From the turret, slim and dainty,

Which the wheeling swallows haunt;

From the mighty, massive minster,

With its slow Gregorian chant;

From the adamantine causeway,

With its mosses overgrown;

From the yellow, perfumed wallflower,

Set in crannies of the stone;

From the fragments of the ramparts,

Half of Rome and half of Gaul,

Which beat back the foes of Clovis

From their vast embattled wall;

From the poplars on the island,

In the broad, unburdened stream,

Where the English exile, Thomas,

May have dreamed prophetic dream

Of those distant Kentish meadows,

Where, at scarce a later day,

His own tomb should be the altar,

Where half Europe flocked to pray.

I have put you in my garden

On the hills above the Seine,

Where many dainty roses

Drink their fill of summer rain;

But whatever be their beauty

Or how rare soe’er they be,

There ’s not a rose among them

That can tell your tale to me!