Damask Rose in Gerard's Herball from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶    The Rose.

PRess me not to take more pleasure
                 In this world of sugred lies,
And to use a larger measure
                 Then my strict, yet welcome size.

First, there is no pleasure here:
                 Colour’d griefs indeed there are,
Blushing woes, that look as cleare
                 As if they could beautie spare.

O if such deceits there be,
                 Such delights I meant to say;
There are no such things to me,
                 Who have pass’d my right away.

But I will not much oppose
                 Unto what you now advise:
Onely take this gentle rose,
                 And therein my answer lies.

What is fairer then a rose?
                 What is sweeter? yet it purgeth.1
Purgings enmitie disclose,
                 Enmitie forbearance urgeth.

If then all that worldlings prize
                 Be contracted to a rose;
Sweetly there indeed it lies,
                 But it biteth in the close.

So this flower doth judge and sentence
                 Worldly joyes to be a scourge:
For they all produce repentance,
                 And repentance is a purge.

But I health, not physick choose:
                 Onely though I you oppose,
Say that fairly I refuse,
                 For my answer is a rose.

1 purgeth. flush unhealthy toxins from the system.

General note on herbal cures: The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerarde [or Gerard], (Norton and Whittaker: London, 1633), p.1263, lists the medicinal properties of roses. Some are included below [Return]:

¶   The Vertues..

     The distilled water of roses is good for the strengthing of the heart, & refreshing of the spirits, and likewise for all things that require a gentle cooling. A
     The same being put into iundetting, dishes, cakes, sauces, and many other pleasant things, giveth a fine and delectable taste. B
     It mitigateth the paine of the eies proceeding of a hot cause, bringeth sleep, which also the fresh roses themselues prouoke through their sweet and pleasant smell. C
     The iuice of these roses, especially of Damask, doth moue to the stoole, and maketh the belly soluble: but most effectually that of the Musk roses: next to them is the iuice of the Damask, which is more commonly vsed. D
     The infusion of them doth the same, and also the syrrup made thereof, called in Latine Drosatum, or Serapium: the Apothecaries call it Syrrup of roses solutiue, which must be made of the infusion in which a great number of the leaues of these fresh roses are diuers and sundry times steeped. E
     It is profitable to make the belly loose & soluble, when as either there is no need of other stronger purgation, or that it is not fit and expedient to vse it: for besides those excrements which stick to the bowels, or that in the first and neerest veines remaine raw, flegmaticke, and now and then cholericke, it purgeth no other excrements, vnlesse it be mixed with certaine other stronger medicines. F
     This syrrup doth moisten and coole, and therefore it alayeth the extremitie of heat in hot burning feuers, mitigateth the inflammations of the intrails, and quencheth thirst: it is fearce good for a weake and moist stomache, for it leaueth it more slacke and weake. G
     Of like vertue also are the leaues of these preserued in Sugar, especially if they be onely bruised with the hands, and diligently tempered with Sugar, and so heat at the fire rather than boiled.

¶   The Temperature of Red Roses.

    There is in the red Roses, which are common euery where, and in the other that be of a deep purple, called Provence roses, a more earthie substance, also a drying and binding qualitie, yet not without certaine moisture ioined, being in them when they are as yet fresh,which they lose when they be dried : for this cause their iuice and infusion doth also make the bodie soluble,yet not so much as of the others aforesaid. These roses being dried and their moisture gone,do bind and dry, and likewise coole, but lesser then when they are fresh.

[The letter "u" may be a modern "v," or visa versa, and "i" = "y" and "i" = "j"] See also a Modern Herbal. [Return]

Music Interpretation: "The Rose" by Red Dragon.   To open music in another window.

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