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"The Last Rose of Summer" is a poem by the Irish poet Thomas Moore. He wrote it in 1805, while staying at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland, where he was said to have been inspired by a specimen of Rosa 'Old Blush'. The poem is set to a traditional tune called "Aislean an Oigfear", or "The Young Man's Dream", which was transcribed by Edward Bunting in 1792, based on a performance by harper Denis Hempson (Donnchadh Ó hÁmsaigh) at the Belfast Harp Festival. The poem and the tune together were published in December 1813 in volume 5 of Thomas Moore's A Selection of Irish Melodies. The original piano accompaniment was written by John Andrew Stevenson, several other arrangements followed in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Sheet music of The Last Rose of Summer
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
And give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?
The following is an incomplete selection of "theme and variations" created during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Sydney Smith: The Last Rose of Summer. Paraphrase de concert op. 173, for piano (c.1880)
Félix Godefroid: La Dernière rose d'été. Mélodie irlandaise, for harp (1891)
Max Reger: Vierstimmiger Kanon über das Lied 'Letzte Rose', for piano (1903)
Paul Hindemith alluded to both words and music in his On Hearing 'The Last Rose of Summer', part of Nine English Songs (1944)
Benjamin Britten: no. 9 of Folksong Arrangements, vol. 4: Moore's Irish Melodies (1958)
In Japan, the melody is widely known as the song Niwa-no-Chigusa (?), meaning "The Plants in the Garden". The poem was adapted by Tadashi Satomi (1824-1886) and published as part of Songs for the Elementary School (book III) in 1884 by the Educational Ministry.
Tom Waits included a song entitled "The Last Rose of Summer" on his 1993 album The Black Rider, based on the eponymous stage production by Waits, Robert Wilson (director) and William S. Burroughs. In it, the singer talks about the petals of his "favourite rose" being shrouded "in shadows dark and long". The song ends with the lines: "I can be found in the garden singing this song / When the last rose of summer is gone".
Kanye West refers to the poem in his song Blood on the Leaves on his album Yeezus wherein the rapper writes, "That summer night holdin' long and long, 'din long Now waiting for the summer rose and (breathe)" (2013).
Henri Vieuxtemps' Last Rose of Summer (from Bouquet Américain, Op. 33 for Violin & Piano) is featured on violinist Destiny Ann Mermagen's 2018 album, "Bach to Barn Burners" (a first-ever release of the complete six works).
In the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, it is the character Joe Pendelton's inability to play "The Last Rose of Summer" on his saxophone in any way other than badly that allows him to prove that he is alive in another man's body; all the other characters think he is the dead man from whom he got the body, but when he plays the sax for his old boxing manager, he uses the same wrong note in the melody as he always did, and which thus confirms his story of coming back from the after-life.
In the 1944 film Gaslight, the melody is associated with the opera singer Alice Alquist, the murdered aunt of the protagonist, Paula (Ingrid Bergman).
In the 2000 Thaiwestern filmTears of the Black Tiger (Thai: , or Fa Thalai Chon), a translated version of the song called "Kamsuanjan" ("The Moon Lament") was used as the closing song concurrent with the tragic ending of the film.
The song was used in the 2008 video game Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep as the theme of the Depths area of the Zahhab Region. It is also playable on the jukebox that the player can purchase in-game.
In the 16th (final) episode of the 6th season (2009) of the UK Channel 4 television series Shameless, the song was sung by Jamie Maguire (played by Aaron McCusker) at the funeral of his sister Mandy Maguire (Samantha Siddall).
The song was featured in FOX TV series,"The Chicago Code" Season 1 Episode 2, "Hog Butcher" (February 2011). This traditional Irish song was sung by Jason Bayle, as the uniformed officer during the memorial service of fallen Chicago police officer Antonio Betz.
In Rooster Teeth Productions' RWBY web series, the name of Summer Rose is a direct reference to the poem. The thirteenth line, "Thus Kindly I Scatter", is used as the epitaph on her gravestone in the trailer "Red" and episodes one and twelve of the third season (2015).
In the Hangar 13 game Mafia III (2016), one of the main characters, Thomas Burke, can be heard singing this song with sorrow.
^For a description and listing of more than 200 such pieces, see Axel Klein: "'All her lovely companions are faded and gone' - How The Last Rose of Summer Became Europe's Favourite Irish Melody" and its appendix, "Utilisations of 'The Last Rose of Summer', respectively 'The Groves of Blarney', by European Composers in the Nineteenth Century, in Chronological Order", in: Sarah McCleave & Brian Caraher (eds.): Thomas Moore and Romantic Inspiration. Poetry, Music, and Politics (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 128-145 & 231-253; ISBN9781138281479 (hardback), ISBN9781315271132 (e-book).