The Last Rose of Summer

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sung by Adelina Patti in 1906

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The Last Rose of Summer is a poem by Irish poet Thomas Moore. Moore wrote it in 1805 while at Jenkinstown Park in County Kilkenny, Ireland. It is set to a traditional tune called "Aislean an Oigfear" or "The Young Man's Dream",[1] which had been transcribed by Edward Bunting in 1792 based on a performance by harper Donnchadh Ó hÁmsaigh (Denis Hempson) at the Belfast Harp Festival.[2] The Poem and the tune together were published in December 1813 in volume 5 of a collection of Moore's work called A Section of Irish Melodies.

Musical settings[edit]


Ludwig van Beethoven composed a Theme and Three Variations for flute and piano, Op.105, based on the song, late in his life.

Mauro Giuliani composed a Variations for Guitar, based on the song. Tt is in the collection called "Sei arie nazionale irlandesi", Op.125, No.2

Felix Mendelssohn composed a Fantasia in E major, Op. 15, based on the song (1827?, publ. London, 1830).

Friedrich von Flotow uses a German translation of the song in his opera Martha, which premiered in 1847 in Vienna. It is a favorite air ("Letzte Rose") of the character Lady Harriet. The interpolation works, and indeed the song helped popularize the opera. Another translation is "Qui sola, vergin rosa."

Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst wrote a set of variations for the violin on the song; these are considered extremely difficult to play.

Opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini began with the song in her free public concert in the streets of San Francisco, California on Christmas Eve, 1910.[3]

Benjamin Britten composed an arrangement in E-flat major. First known performance: Peter Pears, tenor, Britten, piano, January 1958, Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Recorded by Britten and Pears, 1961. Pears recorded the arrangement with Osian Ellis, harp, 1976.[4]

Sigismond Thalberg wrote a fantasy on it.


The poem is alluded to in the Grateful Dead song "Black Muddy River", which is sung to the tune composed by Sir John Stevenson. Clannad released a rendition of the song on their album Crann Úll. Sarah Brightman recorded the song for her album The Trees They Grow So High. It was made popular in the twenty-first century in a recording by Charlotte Church and the Irish Tenors.

It is sung in the musical group Celtic Woman by Méav Ní Mhaolchatha and Hayley Westenra. Chloë Agnew's solo version is recorded on her self-titled album. In the Celtic Woman: A New Journey tours, she sang duets with Ní Mhaolchatha, Westenra, and the vocalist-guitarist of the same group, Lynn Hilary. Agnew and Hilary are performing the same version in the Isle Of Hope tour. Ní Mhaolchatha's solo version is included in her Celtic Journey album.

Off their 1977 album "Sin After Sin", Judas Priest recorded a song entitled "Last Rose of Summer". Written by Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton, the song is all about "unyielding love".

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."

Fionnuala Sherry of the New Instrumental duo Secret Garden released a version of the song titled "The Last Rose" on her solo debut album "Songs From Before".

Laura Wright recorded a version, featured on her album The Last Rose (2011)

Kanye West interpolated it into his song "Blood on the Leaves" off his 2013 album Yeezus.

Literary allusions[edit]

This poem is mentioned in Jules Verne's novel The Vanished Diamond (aka. The Southern Star), and by Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone (Sergeant Cuff whistles the tune frequently).

The song is mentioned by James Joyce in Ulysses.[5]

Film, television and radio[edit]

Deanna Durbin sings the song in the 1939 film, Three Smart Girls Grow Up.[6]

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 anything 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).

This song is heard played on a hurdy-gurdy as Katie Johnson is walking away from the police station at the end of the 1955 Alec Guinness film The Ladykillers.

In the 1995 film An Awfully Big Adventure, the song is used as P.L. O'Hara's theme music and is a recurrent musical motif in the film's score.

The Smashing Pumpkins' song "Speed Kills" references this operetta. Smashing Pumpkins' frontman Billy Corgan's mother's name was Martha.

In the 16th (final) episode of the 6th season of the UK Channel 4 television show 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 Ric Burns' documentary series, New York: A Documentary Film, broadcast on PBS in the USA.

February 2011, the song was featured in FOX TV series,"The Chicago Code" Season 1 Episode 2, "Hog Butcher". This traditional Irish song was sung by Jason Bayle, as the uniformed officer during the memorial service of fallen Chicago police officer Antonio Betz.

A 1977 3 hr. Science Fiction BBC radio production written by Stephen Gallagher.

The words "Summer Rose" are followed by the poem's thirteenth line, "Thus Kindly I Scatter" on an altar in "Red", a 2012 trailer for Rooster Teeth Productions' RWBY web series. And is the mother of the main character, Ruby Rose

In the 2000 Thai western film Tears of the Black Tiger (Thai: ฟ้าทะลายโจร, or Fa Thalai Chon), 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 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.


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,
Or 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?


  1. ^ Walton's, editors (1993). Ireland - The Songs Book 4. 
  2. ^ Bunting, Edward (1796). A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music. 
  3. ^ Luisa Tetrazzini's gift ends S.F. era on high note, San Francisco Chronicle
  4. ^ "Notes on the Songs." Benjamin Britten: Complete Folk Song Arrangements. Ed. Richard Walters. Milwaukee: Boosey & Hawkes, 2006.Xvii. Print.
  5. ^ "Ulysses by James Joyce: The Last Rose of Summer, accessed 29 June 2009
  6. ^ "Three Smart Girls Grow Up". Deanna Durbin Devotees. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 

Audio clips[edit]

External links[edit]

Works related to The Last Rose of Summer at Wikisource