One day, the secretary of our English department at the University of Bristol told me she was going to have a child. "When your baby arrives," I said to her, "I will give you a rose". I don't know where this fanciful idea came from. Well, the baby arrived. When the secretary returned to work, the first thing she said to me was "Where's my rose?" "Just one moment," I replied, "I will go and make you a rose." And here is the result.

A Rose for Janet

I know
this rose is only
an ink-and-paper rose
but see how it grows and goes
on growing
beneath your eyes:
a rose in flower
has had (almost) its vegetable hour
whilst my
rose of spaces and typography
can reappear at will
(your will)
whenever you repeat
this ceremony of the eye
from the beginning
and thus
learn how
to resurrect a rose
that’s instantaneous
and perfect now

from Selected Poems 1955-97 (OUP, 1997), copyright Charles Tomlinson 1997, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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