The third song of the Op 19 set, To the Rose
, was taken from Herrick’s Hesperides
(1648), a collection of secular, highly polished miniatures on the subjects of love, death and sex. The traditional seventeenth-century conceit of the rose, symbol of nubile womanhood, virginity and eroticism here also reflects the passion of the retiring lover, nervous at his own impetuosity. Almost Mendelssohnian in its delicacy, the song has an elegance tinged with coyness and reserve, an emotional tenor which allows the outburst of the third verse (‘but do not so! Lest a handsome anger fly’) to be thrown into relief.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000