Two Poems in the Courtly Manner

By DAVID LEHMAN

1.

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.

 

2.

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.

 

[Purchase Issue 13 here]

David Lehman’s new book is Poems in the Manner Of.

Two Poems in the Courtly Manner

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