She’s tall and elegant with fairest face
her history dates back before these times.
She changes through all ages yet remains
mellifluous, mysterious, and fine.

She’s herald for the royals who played at war,
a gift to salve an aching mother’s heart,
a tribute from the poor when laid in prayer
a pledge of truth and troth when lovers part.

I give to you this sign of family,
a symbol of your beauty in repose.
Its lines are drawn on all you sanctify–
on vases, jewelry, furnishings and clothes.

Great love has left its imprint to disclose
and mark you as a Woman of the Rose.

Y’all may have to read this with my Texas accent. Royals and prayer should be read as a one syllable word, and jewelry as two to be “impure” iambic pentameter.  Well, that’s how I pronounce them, ok? This was written for my granddaughter Valerie’s 17th birthday. She speaks Florida, but she should understand this pretty well.

It’s being posted for Björn’s MTB article on Voltas. A Volta typically happens on line 9 of a sonnet and means a turn from the original statement of the poem.  It’s where the poem “heads home”. Here I change from the history of the rose to giving it symbolically to my granddaughter.

(c) Gay Reiser Cannon * All Rights Reserved * 02.16.15

22 thoughts on “Heritage

  1. …and mark you as a woman of the rose… i love how that changes the focus if you read again after having read the volta – makes it so much more personal and meaningful

  2. absolutely beautiful gay…it feels almost like an invocation…or indoctirnation right….into the sisterhood of the women of the rose….i like the language too … mellifluous is a cool word…i like all the little bits you pull out of history because they play up the final symbolism…

    ha i was just talking about you in the comments at dverse because i was afraid we would not see you…i have a treat for you…smiles.

    • In a way it is. My mother loved roses. Her father in law painted her “portrait” in oils – a huge cascade of different types of roses. She left me lots of roses in jewelry, and keepsakes. Boyfriends gave me roses, and things designed as roses, my husband followed suit, as did Ron. Those will have to go to the granddaughters. Even though with a baptismal name of Margaret, daisies should be my flower, I could not escape the heritage of roses nor can the girls of mine it seems.

  3. I really love this.. I also think you could say by describing the rose with those first 12 lines, you gave it the release in the end with giving it the name… By doing so you really made us see the rose instead of just knowing what it was.. 🙂 Great poem Gay.

  4. Wonderful! I hope you don’t mind me reading this with my long North Carolina drawl. I truly relate to this poem, being a Southern woman of long heritage. it reminds me of my grandmother showing me how to root gardenia bushes from a branch from one of the bushes in our yard. In her gentle voice telling, now you know how to make more of these for your own yard in years to come….simply beautiful. Thank you.

  5. This is beautifully done ~ I specially admire the turn in the 9th line, the heritage of beauty ~ Wow, you always amaze me Gay ~ I feel ever the student with form poetry ~

  6. Roses signifying perfumed beauty gets special treatment here. But given symbolic to happiness to the family should give emphasis and meaning especially accorded at age 16! Great write Gay!


  7. This is beautiful, just like the rose and I’m sure your granddaughter. I love that you effortlessly weaved in the word “mellifluous” — a word that sounds as beautiful as its meaning. Peace, Linda

  8. Thank you for the background information about the granddaughter or I would not have followed the last two lines. Fun stuff.
    Had a big smile thinking about the Texas accent – a beautiful accent, if I may say.

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