i want the roses to bloom (forever.)

Upon reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I began to feel a hopeful, wistful sort of empathy for the tortured main character – Dorian Gray himself. I think I’ve always seen the world through rose coloured glasses, for everything is so much lovelier when masked by shades of innocence. Perhaps that’s why I started to love Dorian so much. Through him I saw the fleeting days of my youth and the physical beauty, made of “ivory and gold”, which I so often cling to. In the beginning, he was a blank canvas. Just as I was.

As time progressed, he fell under the influence of two men: Basil Hallward – the idealistic painter who worshipped Dorian profusely, and Lord Henry – a man of epigrams, cynicism, and paradox. Basil painted Dorian’s body; Lord Henry, his mind. Sooner or later, Dorian became a byproduct of the artists. He, the art, represented all the wonderful and tragic things – absent of reality. Dorian was neither beautiful nor intelligent until Basil and Lord Henry made him so, and I was neither beautiful nor intelligent until the world made me so. Men made me desirable, teachers made me perceptive. They painted my blank canvas every time their influence began to seep under my skin. Red for lust, blue for intellect, blush for loveliness, lavender for youth.

And now, I’m going into the world as a canvas full of other people’s artwork, and I don’t know how to paint to save my life. As Wilde says, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” So, where do my feelings come into play? What use does the sitter have if they are living vicariously through the art they inspire?  This is where the facade stems from – my utter lack of both control and identity. Humans often create beautiful illusions of everything they want to be, and this ideal is usually unattainable. As long as I have my facade, like the one Dorian created while he was submitting to sin, I am safe. Untouchable. Until, of course, it starts to influence my soul.

One of the quotes in the novel that both confused and intrigued me the most was in one of Lord Henry’s epigrams. He muses, “That is one of the great secrets of life – to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul.” I’ve begun to wonder now what my soul would look like if every sin I committed was etched into my face, skin, and body. And when I think of ways I can cure the soul from this facade I have created and upheld for so long, the only thing that comes to mind is poetry. I find truth, love, and heartache through the words I write. It flows out of my veins like blood, whether I want it to or not. Although my mind and body may have been painted by everyone around me, only I can paint my soul. So I will paint it through poetry.

The following poem represents my facade (the monochromatic castle) being influenced by the purity of love. It reveals the truth in my heart and soul through the imagery of a barren garden being filled with roses – a common symbolic element in Oscar Wilde’s work.


i want the roses to bloom (forever.)


                                                              you and i met                                                                

at a crossroads between

heartache and hope –


in our monochromatic castle

we had built out of

fear, out of pride.


and then, in a garden

that had been barren

for years,

you planted a rose.


just one.


it bloomed despite

the frost and a rather

unforgiving sky

wearing a

perpetual blanket of clouds.


the red from the petals

somehow made its way


into my cheeks as you

told me stories about

the sun and the moon,


into our lips

colliding like two natural

disasters aching for refuge,


into my thoughts

drenched with rose water. they

have made their way into

my lungs –


i can no longer breathe

without tasting you.


i thought it would end

with red – the colour of passion,

of lust, of longing


i was wrong.


your hands and brown eyes

are laced with gold

and there is blue in your veins

(can i call your veins mine?)


green vines are wrapping

around my heart

and twisting around yours

connecting the two so our

heartbeats align


you exist in shades of bliss,

in shades of love

i wish i could paint you in my memory

so the colours never fade




it all used to be grey –

mind, body, and soul

nothing would grow

except my loneliness


now, it is not.


it is red, gold, blue

there are fireworks


and though a rose, beautiful

but deadly

is clothed with thorns

and is bound to wilt,


a garden, once barren,

now blooms.


it brings hope

of deep deep crimson nights

of midnight blue lovers


i want the roses to bloom (forever.)

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5 thoughts on “i want the roses to bloom (forever.)

  1. Dear Alysha,
    I cannot express to you how much this post means to me. During your presentation every thought and expression you had mimicked something in my life, the insight you have, and the eloquence with which you write and speak about it inspires me. When you had stated that “Basil painted Dorian’s body; Lord Henry, his mind,” yet you “don’t know how to paint” yourself, I was opened to the realization that I too have been painted, yet don’t know how to paint myself – you have allowed me to recognize, and further act on, the development of my own sense of self. For this, I would like to thank you.

    I am honored to be in your family group, and I cannot wait to see what else you have to bring this year.



    1. Dear Shyla,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading this post! I’m so glad this piece was able to have some impact on you because your writing has had a strong one on me, especially in the past few weeks. I am so honoured to be in your group as well and I can’t wait to keep working together.

      Love Always,

  2. Dearest Alysha,

    I have had the utter privilege and honor of being in the AP class with you ever since we were in Grade 10 – both terrified of the immense intellect and sheer wisdom bestowed upon us by the senior grades. However, I have also known you since middle school – when our only worries were of juvenile emotions and shallow dramas. To witness the growth of you both as an individual and as a writer has been wonderful.

    You have grown into a writer full of poise and delicate interpretation that evokes intricate imagery and emotion with every word you place. I absolutely love the ways in which you are able to take simple objects and symbols such as a rose and turn them into something that brings so much more meaning into the world. I thank you for your ability to do this, as it inspires me to find the nuances in the world and wonder about how the smallest of details can make the biggest of impacts. You have said many times that you are a fan of Rupi Kaur’s beautiful poetry, and I see a lot of her style has influenced yours, but you haven’t lost your own sense of style at the same time. Amazing.

    Unfortunateley, I was not able to see your presentation last Friday, but I am thankful to you that you were able to write such a strong literary connection to the symbolism/themes found in the Picture of Dorian Gray and your own facade and soul. It was such a wonderful and meaningful analysis, and as a person who loves to draw and paint, I especially loved the line “What use does the sitter have if they are living vicariously through the art they inspire?” – it made me think of the other side of the art piece.

    One thing that I would have absolutely loved to see in your poem especially was full circle – your poem was already so exceptional, but I think a little line repeated at both the start and the end would wrap it up with a little bow. However, it is an absolute joy to read your work, because I am taken to a symbolic imageery land with every poem you write.

    Keep up the amazing work,

    Carm 🙂

    1. Dear Carmen,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment!! It means so much to me. Actually, the other day I was thinking about the “original” AP students who started in grade ten and now we’re somehow here. Your style of writing has also improved SO much, along with your articulation and ability to contribute so beautifully and effectively to Socratic discussions. It is such a great compliment, especially from you, that I’ve kept my own style of writing while still being influenced by other poets.

      I can’t wait to see your presentation (I’ve already read your blog on it) and to hear you read your poem! For next time, I’ll definitely try and add a full circle because I do think it would unify the poem even more and wrap it up in a more clever way. Thank you for that suggestion.

      Love Always,

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