“Not roses to the rose, I trow, the thistle sends”

Frederick Locker-Lampson, the friend of Tennyson and most accomplished writer of vers de société in his time, had through their common friend Andrew Lang asked RLS for a set of verses, and RLS had sent the following – which were first printed at the head of a very scarce volume by Locker-Lampson, Rowfant Rhymes, 1895, with an introduction by Austin Dobson.

[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1692.]

To Frederick Locker-Lampson [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 349-350]

Skerryvore, September 4, 1886

Not roses to the rose, I trow,

The thistle sends, nor to the bee

Do wasps bring honey. Wherefore now

Should Locker ask a verse from me?



Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821-1895), Civil Servant, poet, anthologist and collector, added his second wife’s surname to his own in 1885 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Martial, perchance, – but he is dead,

And Herrick now must rhyme no more;

Still burning with the muse, they tread

(And arm in arm) the shadowy shore.

Marcus Valerius Martialis (ca. 38-104 AD), Latin poet [http://izquotes.com]

Robert Herrick (1591-1674), English lyric poet [https://upload.wikimedia.org]



They, if they lived, with dainty hand,

To music as of mountain brooks,

Might bring you worthy words to stand

Unshamed, dear Locker, in your books.


But tho’ these fathers of your race

Be gone before, yourself a sire,

To-day you see before your face

Your stalwart youngsters touch the lyre.

RLS, by W.B. Richmond, August 1886.


On these – on Lang or Dobson – call,

Long leaders of the songful feast.

They lend a verse your laughing fall –

A verse they owe you at the least.

RLS’s friend Andrew Lang (11844-1912), Scottish poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology [www.mainlesson.com]

Henry Austin Dobson (1840-1921), English poet and essayst  [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Robert Louis Stevenson







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