Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Last Rose of Summer

We have a student intern in our church right now, and she preached recently. One of the comments she made was—how many times do we look back in sorrow at the things we have left undone.

This thought has been kicking around in my head for some time—but not exactly with the emphasis she stated. We all celebrate and recognize the beginnings of important things in our lives—but we don’t always know when we see or do something for the last time.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I needed to get a new washer and dryer. Since we could afford it, we picked out quite good models—and the salesman said: This may be the last washer and dryer you need to buy. I think I was a little startled—was the world of weekly washing coming to an end? Did the salesman know something I did not about my projected life span? I think he was actually touting the longevity of his product, nothing more dire than that.

That expression—the last rose of summer—comes from a poem by Thomas Moore, an Irish poet. Sir John Stevenson set it to music, which you can hear
here. The phrase speaks to the bittersweet quality of approaching autumn.

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep thou with them;
'Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

I thought about titling this blog “The Last Robin of Summer” as that conveys the sweet melancholy that accompanies this time of year. The first robin of spring is much heralded, because you know when you see the first one. But the last robin goes unnoticed, as you don’t know it will be the last one you see.

Of course, it’s not really birds I am thinking about, or even roses. It is the last time we do something, or see someone. Maybe it’s my age, but I do find myself thinking, when an acquaintance dies, when was the last time I saw her?

Hmmm—this post is turning far too melancholic. So, let’s go back to the last rose of summer, and savors it beauty and fragrance, however brief.


JeanMac said...

Good post!

Pam said...

Oh, I know exactly what you mean!

dguzman said...

Beautiful post and photos.

Ruth said...

Funny about the washer and dryer. My husband bought a new one piece snow suit for ice fishing and the thought went through my mind, "This is the last one he will need to buy." My own thinking startled me because I have not contemplated the end of our lives before. Nice pictures and poetry.

Larry said...

I think that remembering the last time you saw someone is a beautiful thing.-It shows that you hold a memory of someone dear to your heart.

Beverly said...

It does come to that, doesn't it. When my daughter moved out of the house and took her bed room furniture with her, I started to get a new bed for her room. Instead, I moved our old bed there and bought new for Don and me. When I purchased the mattress and springs, the lady said that it was guaranteed for 25 years. I said, "That will just about do it."

Cathy said...

Gosh, Donna. I guess you and I are traveling a similar melancholy path. It's probably not a huge coincidence given the time of year, but I did just post about the demise of the Dahlias.

Every time I talk to my mother . . . I wonder - will it be the last?

Anyway - your post is lovely. I'd not read that poignant poem in a very long time.

Mary said...

I find this to be a melancholy time of year, Donna. It's not my age, I don't think. It's the season.

And because of my age, I think of those I have left behind during my lifetime - very dear friends who I don't see anymore. I need to see them again - as it might possibly be the last time.

Mauigirl said...

I know exactly what you mean. A very poignant post. I tend to think the same way you do; I often wonder whether it is the last time I'll see someone. But sometimes you just don't know and then it is very sad. As you said, we should always savor that last rose of summer. As we should enjoy all the days we have, since you never know...