Maud lost her heart to a rose. A single closed pink bud presented to her.
then, she known him only as the Rose Man. A quiet and gentle young
man who tended her grandmother's garden; a neighbour's son who lived
two doors down from her dear nan. His name was Arthur. Arthur Booth.
And he had an affinity with roses.
voice was soft, as soft as light summer rain, but when they
quarrelled it became as hard as hailstones. At their last meeting,
sharp words were spoken and hers in particular were as prickly as
thorns. Their nine month courtship ended abruptly before he left to
join the front. Maud begged him to desert, to resist, to be a
pacifist; she didn't want him to die for King and country and
refused to write to him. Women feared for their men, but most wanted
them to be courageous; not Maud. She wanted Arthur, who had passed
the medical, to stay and accept the taunts and white feathers.
were younger men just as scared as him Arthur said. Just boys.
Despite his misgivings, he owed it to them to stand up and be
counted. To fight and even die alongside them. It didn't change
anything between the two of them, but Maud wouldn't have it. If he
went, they were finished! She didn't want to pine or live in hope
like other sweethearts; she wouldn't search for his name in bulletins
or be afraid of a knock at the door.
words once said couldn't be taken back, and soon more were thrown and
hung in the air like London's smog. He was weak, she was selfish. He
would be sure to get killed, she was cruel and callous. Neither of
them meant it, but the tension sizzled like a storm that wouldn't
break. Maud grew silent and Arthur, after one final glance, walked
away with heavy footfalls which echoed up the garden path.
who had been terrified of further wounding her lost heart found it
bled anyway. Too proud to back down, she constantly thought about
Arthur and moved into her grandmother's house where she felt his
presence lingered in the garden. She befriended his family, talked to
his roses and breathed in their heavenly scent. She found the words
to reconcile them, the words she wished she had the nerve to write or
too was stubborn. He wrote letters he didn't send.
was confirmed he was missing in action, his belongings were returned
and with them was a packet of letters tied with string and marked,
'For Maud.' He'd poured out all his thoughts so that the words read
like Tennyson's poetry. Maud's tears dropped onto the fragile papers
for while their raised voices had rung in her head, he, without her
knowing, had continue to love and had forgiven her.
knew Arthur was dead for the roses which climbed up the brick wall
began to call her. They'd never answered her before, but now they
seductively whispered, “Come into the garden, Maud...” So that
each day she said farewell to the setting sun and welcomed the rising
moon there. Maud's visits were so timed that as she approached a red
rose would cry, “She is near, she is near” and a white rose would
weep, “She is late.” Their sweet musky perfume entering her blood
when each twilight she admired them.
late renewal of Arthur's love, even in death, revived her withered
soul, because through the roses he loved her still and would always
be with her.
Maud by Alfred Tennyson