Song Lyric Sunday — “The Last Rose of Summer”

Most weeks, when Helen Vahdati announces the theme for Song Lyric Sunday, I have trouble deciding on a song. Either I have too many ideas to choose from or cannot think of even one. This week, as soon as I saw the theme, Last, I didn’t think twice. The only choice for me is “The Last Rose of Summer” written by Irish poet Thomas Moore in 1805. Published as a song in 1813, the poem was paired with a traditional Irish tune published in 1792.

This haunting song has been recorded by many diverse artists over the past century, but my favorite version is sung by John McDermott, one of the three original Irish Tenors. I was happy to find a video of  the PBS performance that introduced me to the song.  McDermott was not participating in the full performance with the Irish Tenors that night, as his mother had recently passed away, but performed this, his parent’s favorite song, in honor of them. Although he sang only the first and last verses at that time, I have provided all three verses of Moore’s lyrics. (I love McDermott’s rendition so much that I can’t resist posting a second video that is a studio version of all three verses. If I knew how, I would also post audio from McDermott’s 2005 album “A Time To Remember” of his father, Peter McDermott, singing it.)



“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?



7 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — “The Last Rose of Summer”

    1. His voice is very much untrained traditional Irish tenor (even though he’s not Irish). Such a contrast to the other two Irish Tenors, who have trained, almost operatic, voices. Glad you enjoyed it!

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