|Instruments||chorus and piano|
Go, lovely rose is a bittersweet poem by the seventeenth-century poet and politician Edmund Waller. The rose in question is like his beloved because it is beautiful, and also because its beauty counts for nothing if it remains hidden.
In the startling last verse the poet draws one last parallel: the beauty of both the flower and the lady - and of all beautiful things - cannot outlast death.
The music starts sweetly and elegantly, and seems - like the poem - to use conventional means to communicate its message. But just as the poem explores the darker meanings behind the well-worn metaphor, the harmonies become less stable as the song progresses, and the bitterness of the poem's imagery starts to supplant its sweetness.
In the end, however, we are left with the rose of here and now. The poet's stark warning has been delivered, but for the moment we still have the rose and the lady, who are both 'wondrous sweet and fair'.
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