He found the hothouse hotter than he hoped
Hell or baked Florida might be for any enemy.
And so through hairy ferns and brick-red pottery he groped
His humid destination, while the green glass sunlight
Broke into squares and crossed him as he went.
We steam like clams here; but we may not hiss
Without some peril, puffing toward the roses.
And roses of a monstrous size; how could he miss
Them, even though the sweat was pouring down his eyes?
He passed a mossy fountain and went on.
The rooms became like tanks, the roof might see him swim
Enclosed with all such steaming endocarp and chlorophyll,
Which pollened jungle air can never dim.
But lights, lungs, liver of impatient man
Can drown. He dropped into a pool and could not breathe.
He tried again. Dead tired, man walking underwater,
Drenched and bewildered man, undone, who loathed all roses
Then turned back, though lips of mistress, wife, or daughter
Had cried for them, huge thornless roses. Going down,
He tore at the long weeds as one might tear a gown.