Tuesday, 8 September 2009

An Unpetaled Rose

First, Jesus, Mary's hands
made sure you didn't fall:
Then on your own,
You tried, on our sad earth,
shakily first of all
To walk alone . . .
Before You, I would break
the petals off a rose
Fresh from the bower -
So that each little foot
of yours, that forward goes
Rests on a flower! . . .

This rose,
un-petaled now,
is, Holy Child! that heart
(the figure's true)
Which wants to immolate
itself - in every part,
Always, for You.
Fresh altar-roses, Lord,
are gratified to shine -
Self-gifts we see! -
Instead of that
I would
(this other dream is mine)
Un-petal me . . .

Delightful Child! the rose
can deck Your Feast-days when
It's at its height.
The rose,
unpetaled though -
thrown to the wind's will, then
Blown out of sight!
That rose gives up itself -
all artless - that it may
No longer live.
Child Jesus! I, to You
give myself up that way -
Joyously give!

Upon such petals then
one walks without regret:
and their debris
Are ornaments by no
deliberation set -
This now I see.
For You, I've strewn my life -
my future, with what's gone:
To mortal eye,
A rose that always will
be withered from now on,
I ought to

Supremely lovely Child!
for You I ought to die -
Happily too!
I'll die to show You I,
un-petaled, love You . . . my
Treasure is You . . .
Beneath Your baby steps
I'll live, while here below,
In mystery:
I'll soften, too, Your steps -
Your last ones, those that go
To Calvary!


Translation by Alan Bancroft

From Collected Poems of St Therese of Lisieux, Gracewing 2001