THE TEA ROSE


after Théophile Gautier

The most delicate of roses
Is, certainly, the tea rose.
Its button of petals half-closed
barely carmine tint disclose.

It looks like a white rose
made to modestly blush,
By a butterfly on the branch,
leering in its ardours.

Its pink diaphanous silks
of flesh tones velvety;
near your skin it fades
Or acquires vulgarity.

An aristocratic complexion
bronzes facing the sun,
revealing her rustic origin,
sisters vermeil and warm.


But if your hand toys,
At some ball, for its perfume,
The closer to your cheek,
Its fresh shine becomes common.

It is not-quite-tender pink
On the palette of one Spring,
Madam, has no rival’s claim
against your seventeen.

Skin surpasses petal,
the pure blood of noble heart
which from youth spreads out
Of all the roses is the winner!

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