This song was originally written by John Cale
, former Velvet Underground
bassist (and rock-influenced avant-garde composer
in his own right).
Like many other Bauhaus pieces, `Rosegarden' deals with the ultimate banality of loveless sex (which is perhaps a large part of the reason they chose this piece of Cale's). In this respect, one can see the heavy influence of Eliot's The Waste Land. `Rosegarden' can be tied in other ways to the works of Eliot. For example, from Eliot's `Ash-Wednesday':
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
. . .
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.
And from `Burnt Norton
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
Here, and in `The Hollow Men
', we see the rose as a symbol for God
. Only in God (who in His infinite glory
is both Rose
) can `all loves end
'. This includes, of course, not just romantic love, but also the loveless love of sex
. Thus `Virgin Mary
' (modern Christian society
, in its decline
) views the `whores
' (actually us, modern Western culture in general, in particular the unsaved
) as producing a mindless
`scream of chatter
'; this is the philosophical posturing in defense of the `enlightened
' values of the sexual revolution
. This posturing is, to Virgin Mary, senseless
because it ignores the Truth of God
The Rosegarden, from which Virgin Mary hears the whores, is the afterlife, or at least a state of grace. Thus it is a `funeral', and one is nearer to the Rose that is God (note also the connection this makes between Paracelsus's secret name of the rose and the cabalistic search for the true name of God). The `sores', as could be expected, are the stigmata of Christ (see also Bauhaus's `Stigmata Martyr'). Only through these sores and the suffering of Christ can we, as Virgin Mary has done, transcend the meaningless sexuality of this world.
Even in Grace, one can still see and experience those who have been left behind to revel in their orgiastic stupor. Thus Virgin Mary is tired of, and even irritated by, their relentless ``gossip and complaints''. What she does not realise is that it is her job as one of the saved to lead the whores towards the Truth. And this is what Cale and Bauhaus are attempting, if only unconsciously, to do with this work.