By DAVID LEHMAN
Gather ye rosebuds come what may,
Old time’s a frequent flyer,
And many lovers that link today
May soon be forced to retire.
Let each of us have one, each of us be one
Soul unlinking from its mate in the past
To eat the golden apples of the sun.
Youth fondly supposes it will last.
Death is what happens to someone else,
The soon-to-be forgotten lad who fell
On the tracks or was pushed by a false
Prophet casting his spell. Let all who fall
Learn how to fail. It may be that death
Is the only subject worthy of our time,
Because at any moment our breath
May cease. But that is no bar to rhyme,
Much less love. And postponement is a sin
If earthly pleasure earns the nod
Of approval that any God worthy of the din
May grant in the temple of our union.
So dance and sing, spread your wings far and wide;
Love when you can, all dreams must end;
Be happy while ye may; and let the lovers ride
Ahead of the field: the happy pair, lover and friend.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may;
Tomorrow is another day.
Gather ye rosebuds if you must,
And into ashes all my lust.
A sweet disorder in the dress
Befits a damsel in distress.
Wherever my Julia goes
The honey of her beauty flows.
Tell me—for oracles must still ascend,
Knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend—
What tongues of flame are equal to my lust?
Gather ye rosebuds if you must.
David Lehman’s new book is Poems in the Manner Of.