Go, lovely Rose


Go, lovely Rose - (2009)    

Edmund Waller

for medium voice and piano

for Marilyn

Go, lovely Rose—
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
    That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that’s young,
    And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
    In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
    Of beauty from the light retired:
Bid her come forth,
    Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.

Then die—that she
    The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
    How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!

[ 3 pages, circa 3' 05" ]

Edmund Waller


Educated at Eton and King's College Cambridge and elected to Parliament at age 16, Edmund Waller (1606-1687) was an orator, lyric poet whose collected Poems were published in 1645 and member of the Royal Society, who had to go into exile during the 1640s for attempting to moderate the civil strife of that time between Charles II and Cromwell. He returned to Parliament in 1652 and was returned to royal favor at the Restoration. His work gained critical favor with poets, Alexander Pope and John Dryden.


The text speaks lyrically of the fragility and ultimate mortality of beauty, as time passes to sweep up all into its embrace. The rose and the loved one are not the only beauties of "small" worth to which Waller testifies, for the ardor of the life pressing upon us all is to engage with it, for reason that it is passing. How "small a part of time" all these things share. A fine and lyrical way of urging "carpe diem."



The setting is an AABA form, without exception wholly diatonic and yet somewhat complex for the chord structures and gentle dissonances carried in the interior voice leading. The lyricism and shortened range of the vocal line suggest a view to ardor in which sense, civility and control overwhelm passion with moderation.




The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Go, lovely Rose