II: Big Sea


Sitting in my little attic room that spring, I thought a lot about Mary after she went away. Then after a while, I didn’t think about her so much. But when I did, I felt sad. So one day I wrote this poem (that later Grant Still set to music) which I called, “The Breath of a Rose”:[1]

Love is like dew
On lilacs at dawn:
Comes the swift sun
And the dew is gone.

Love is like star-light
In the sky at morn:
Star-light that dies
When day is born.

Love is like perfume
In the heart of a rose:
The flower withers,
The perfume goes—

Love is no more
Than the breath of a rose,
No more
Than the breath of a rose.

  1. Reprinted by permission of G. Schirmer, Inc., from whom the musical setting may be obtained.


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This work (The Big Sea by Langston Hughes) is free of known copyright restrictions.