Saving the roses is a sestina. A sestina consists of 39 lines made up of six six-line stanzas and a tercet (or envoi) and is probably the most challeging poetic form there is. There are six end words which are used for every line, but in a different order which is referred to as retrogradatio cruciata (‘retrograde cross’). The sestina is reputed to have been invented in the 12th century. The oldest known English sestina dates back to the 1500s.
Saving the roses – a sestina for the environment
If the world ends life will hang in the balance
Ended by ignorance, famine and greed,
To return to love is like climbing a mountain
Pricking ones fingers and hands on roses
In the dark, your path lit only by a lantern,
I can help you, I am music, listen.
I woke up this morning and began to listen
To the music of the birds singing in balance
With nature, the sun rising like a lantern,
So pretty, yet clouded by systems of greed,
Birds’ feathers like the petals of pale roses
Flutter down the side of the mountain.
I will climb to the top of the mountain
And stand at the peak in the stillness and listen,
I am music and I can hear the petals of the roses
Flutter down and the birds create the balance
Between love and hate and greed
And in the darkness shines the lantern.
Out of the darkness shines a lantern
And the people are climbing the mountain,
Leaving behind the famine and greed
And asking for mercy, they want to listen.
They know they upset the perfect balance
I am music, I’ll play out with the roses.
Stripped to the skin and pricked by roses
They walk up the mountain lit by a lantern.
The path is narrow and it’s hard to balance
The love and the hate on the side of the mountain,
The music once played but no-one would listen
And now there is only the loss and the greed.
It’s not too late if we punish the greed
And follow the music which saves the roses,
The birds and the trees ask you to listen,
They light up the dark with their pale lantern
And reach for the skies from the top of the mountain.
I am music, I am silence, I am balance.
The balance is fine between love and greed,
From the top of the mountain I can see the roses
Still lit by the lantern and hoping you’ll listen.