“ROWSES, Rowses! Penny a bunch!” they tell you
Slattern girls in Trafalgar, eager to sell you.
Roses, roses, red in the Kensington sun,
Holland Road, High Street, Bayswater, see you and smell you
Roses of London town, red till the summer is done.
Roses, roses, locust and lilac, perfuming
West End, East End, wondrously budding and blooming
Out of the black earth, rubbed in a million hands,
Foot-trod, sweat-sour over and under, entombing
Highways of darkness, deep gutted with iron bands.
“Rowses, rowses! Penny a bunch!” they tell you,
Ruddy blooms of corruption, see you and smell you,
Born of stale earth, fallowed with squalor and tears
North shire, south shire, none are like these, I tell you,
Roses of London perfumed with a thousand years.