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The Last Rose of Summer

Composer: Converse Charles Crozat

Instruments: Guitar

Tags: Waltz Dance Piece Arias Polka Marche

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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 Castle 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 hAmhsaigh) 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.
'Tis the last rose of summer,     Left blooming alone; All her lovely companions     Are faded and gone; No flower of her kindred,     No rose-bud 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 wither'd,     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.
This poem is mentioned in Jules Verne's 1884 novel The Vanished Diamond (aka. The Southern Star), and by Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone (1868), in which Sergeant Cuff whistles the tune frequently.
The song is mentioned by James Joyce in Ulysses. It is also referred to, disdainfully, in George Eliot's Middlemarch.
The song also mentioned in Rupert Hughes's 1914 book by the same name, The Last Rose of Summer, and by Betty Smith in her 1943 novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
A British silent movie of The Last Rose of Summer made in 1920 stars Owen Nares and Daisy Burrell.
Deanna Durbin sings the song in the 1939 film, Three Smart Girls Grow Up.
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 1951 film The Great Caruso, actor Mario Lanza who played Caruso sang it as Caruso's swan song.
In the 1953 I Love Lucy, episode "Never Do Business With Friends" (Season 2, Episode 31), Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance) sings the first lines of this song while doing housework.
This song is heard played on a 19.5/8-inch upright Polyphon musical box as Katie Johnson is walking to/away from the police station at the start/end of the 1955 Alec Guinness film The Ladykillers.
The Last Rose of Summer was also the title (later revised as Dying of Paradise) of a three-hour science fiction production written by Stephen Gallagher in 1977–78 for Piccadilly Radio.
This song was also featured in the 1970 West Germany Film Heintje – Mein bester Freund [de].
In the 1983–1984 Japanese TV drama Oshin, broadcast on NHK, the melody is played on harmonica by the characters.
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 song was featured in Ric Burns' documentary series, New York: A Documentary Film (1999–2003), broadcast on PBS in the USA.
In the 2000 Thai western film Tears of the Black Tiger (Thai: ฟ้าทะลายโจร, 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.
The 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri starts with The Last Rose of Summer, performed by Renée Fleming from the CD The Beautiful Voice by Renée Fleming, the English Chamber Orchestra & Jeffrey Tate 1998. The song is played again late in the film, when the central character, Mildred Hayes, hurls Molotov cocktails at the police station. The version performed is part of the opera Martha by Friedrich von Flotow.
In the season 9 premiere of The Walking Dead, Hilltop resident Alden (played by Callan McAuliffe) sang a rendition of The Last Rose of Summer at the funeral of the blacksmith's son Ken.
Anya Taylor-Joy performs The Last Rose of Summer in the 2020 film adaptation of Emma, based on Jane Austen's 1815 novel of the same name.
Works related to The Last Rose of Summer at Wikisource