"The Last Rose Of Summer, Left Blooming Alone"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Thomas Moore was an Irish poet of the romantic period who tried to do for Ireland what Burns had done for Scotland; he wrote graceful lyrics for traditional and ancient airs of his country, working on the project for nearly twenty years. The results, published over a period of time (1807–1834), were entitled Irish Melodies. In some cases Moore composed tunes as well as lyrics, but most of the airs were of great age. He had a good voice and sang these compositions on occasion. Modern critics are likely to feel that his work is too often superficial and oversentimental, but it nonetheless retains considerable charm. In his day Moore was, next to Byron, the most popular poet in Britain. A close friend of Byron, he produced a good biography of the latter and at times defended Byron's memory from critics. Other popular works by him were Lalla Rookh and The Loves of the Angels, works exploiting the currently stylish Orientalism. He wrote one novel, The Epicurean, a History of Ireland, and some light satire. Moore came to be regarded as the national poet of Ireland, and it is for his Irish songs that he is remembered today; many are still popular old favorites. Among the best known of these are "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms"; "The Minstrel Boy"; "The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls"; and "The Last Rose of Summer." The last-mentioned was used by Friedrich von Flotow (1812–1883), German composer, in his most successful and still popular opera, Martha; here it is used as a theme song, occurring several times during the course of the work. First performed in 1844, it still holds a place in light opera repertoire. The poem merely expresses its writer's sadness upon realizing that the last rose of the season is blooming and that it will be a year before he will see roses again. He likens it to human existence, hoping he will not remain solitary to exist in a bleak world after all his friends are gone into death.

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming 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 are withered,
And fond ones are flown,
O who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?