Rosy Cole

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Rosy Cole was born and educated in the Shires of England. Her writing career started in her teens. Four apprentice works eventually led to publication of two novels. Life intervened, but she returned to authorship in 2004. She has worked as a Press Officer and Publisher's Reader and is a member of the Society of Authors. Among widespread interests, she lists history, opera, musicals, jazz, the arts, drawing and painting, gemmology, homoeopathy and alternative therapies. Theology also is an abiding interest. As a singer, she's performed alongside many renowned musicians and has run a music agency which specialised in themed 'words-and-music' programmes, bringing her two greatest passions together. Rosy's first book of poetry, THE TWAIN, Poems of Earth and Ether, was published in April 2012, National Poetry Month, and two other collections are in preparation. As well as the First and Second Books in the Berkeley Series, she has written several other historical titles and one of literary fiction. She is currently working on the Third Book in the Berkeley Series. All her books are now published under the New Eve imprint. Rosy lives in West Sussex with her son, Chris, and her Springador, Jack, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

The Foreshadowing


One view of the conflict in the Middle East from the 'Reflections' section of THE TWAIN, Poems of Earth and Ether.

A Different Way

The Virgin Speaks

We had to go a different way –
I suppose it was to be expected –
Taking the path that snakes down into Egypt
And the rufous sands of our kindred
Country, shuffling the stones out of place,
The vegetation, itself acicular,
Resembling our abraded mood,
Fraught and fugitive.

Forewarned by a compelling dream,
We speedily forsook our homeland,
And the shabby stable enshrined by Grace,
Wherein the Spirit of our True Abode
Consumed us in its shimmering vision
And we did indeed possess
That Kingdom promised to our
Forefather, Abraham.

How soon the world's rapacious jaws
Were poised to trap the infant Hope of Israel.
Herod trod the warpath, his blood up, lest he be called
To forfeit power. Rather slay the nation's
Innocents, be sure the threat has died
The death, feasting can resume
And the illusion that he alone
Invents salvation.

No resting-place, no refuge then,
The night air gnawed the cheek-skin,
Yet the firmament above hosted the selfsame stars,
Their aspects changing subtly,
That guided men of wisdom,
Rulers of the East, and honest shepherds,
From a cold and rocky altitude
And garnered them.

Oh Abraham, hallowed patriarch!
Spearhead of our toilsome path,
God pledged a race as populous as gems of heaven,
And you believed, but could not trust the manner
Of its coming. You, childless and disdained,
Took matters into your own hands,
Abetted by Sarah, true daughter of Eve,
And begot elsewhere

A bastard line, the Ishmaelites,
Born of your housemaid, Hagar, who scorned
Her mistress' shrivelled womb and barren years,
Earned persecution for her spite and fled
Into the wilderness. It was those ancient footprints
We, the Holy Family, retraced, adjusting
Cosmic balance that quarter might be
Given to exiles.

Time's passed, is passing, will pass,
The sum of it , the essence, still distilling
I am caught up in paradise no mortal mind
Can bear the telling of. All lives, breathes peace
Unclench your fist for Eucharistic Bread,
Earnest of that age-old pact, and you will
Richly gain a foretaste of this Land,
Bending to prayer

The strife on earth does not abate,
And conflict scars the centuries for Jew
And Arab cousins. No ploughshare, no pruning-hook
Their arms foretell.  Ire explodes and gushing blood
The soil stains. Sheol needs no further depths
When they distrust God's will, an inalienable
Commonwealth, plum-rich, and blindly shun
His Different Way.
 


Recent Comments
Orna Raz
Thank you dear Rosy for this beautiful poem. The conflict is never with our brothers/sisters/cousins. It is a conflict of extremis... Read More
Sunday, 10 August 2014 14:30
Rosy Cole
That is so good to hear, Orna. As with the Civil Wars in Britain in the 17th century, which divided families, there is nothing wor... Read More
Monday, 11 August 2014 12:50
Nicholas Mackey
Beautiful writing about such a sad situation. Very moving and if only the protagonists involved on either side would spare a momen... Read More
Sunday, 10 August 2014 14:37
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5 Comments

Where The Lilies Blow

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'I was vowed to liberty. Men were to be as gods, and earth as heaven.' Robert Browning.

 

Ever since Eve was seduced by the serpent while Adam looked on, last Friday was it? - or Tuesday? - I forget, her children have been plagued by a desire to return to the idyll of Eden and to innocence.

There, everything was of a piece. Time was timeless. Language was the inspired communication of all the senses at once. Body, mind and spirit were entwined in a joyous interface that set the scene for success and happiness in all undertakings, and the slip between cup and lip, so to speak, was unknown.

No Decalogue was yet devised to keep our primogenitors address-tagged and mindful of their true home. (Darwin still has a place.) There were no Fauvists, Cubists or Pre-Raphaelites, no practitioners of the Impressionist and Expressionist schools. There was no Canova, Bernini or Michelangelo to beguile them with petrified ghosts of immortality. There was no call for Shakespeare, Ibsen, Tolstoy or Salinger to spin their deep-textured tales and pour wisdom into deafened ears. Furthermore, and a searing index of how consummate their bliss, there was not the faintest need of Mozart and Beethoven, Bach, John Tavener or Bose Ltd!

Adam and his spouse were engulfed in a state of being that naturally incorporated surround sound; they were living the vision. And what a vision it was! A multi-dimensional world of rainbows and efflorescence, abundant fruit and gem-paved pathways, and everything exuding the same radiant energy.

The beginning was a golden time. The tenants of the Garden were as free as air. Or birds. Or fish. Or snow leopards. Or forest gazelles. They could soar with the eagle and dive with the dolphins, interpret the sonar vibrations of the seas, the glistening tick of the cricket in the meadow and the chirrup of the wren in the hedgerows. They could call constellations into being, just for the wonder of it, and dissolve themselves in the spectral colours of a raindrop.

No delight they could imagine was denied them. But there was just one proviso to keep all this in place. The tree at the heart of the Garden was out of bounds. Its pendulous crop, glowing and gilded, must be ignored. That seemed a small price to pay, for Adam and Eve did not yet know how to covet.

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 All was well, until one day, Eve chanced to walk where the lilies blow. They bloomed near water cascading into a rockpool that was dappled with sunlight and shaded by the mysterious Tree. There she lingered, caught up in the Music of the Spheres, when the breath was suddenly snatched from her throat. The first frown etched her features. A stifled note was struck. A sibilant note that crept and wound and bound the sound, pinning the Music to staves from which it was impossible to fly. A breeze whispered across the surface of the water, disturbing it with a pattern like angels' wings and seemed to speak of other presences.

At that moment, Eve caught sight of the golden snake coiled amiably about the branches, peering between the luscious globes of fruit. He observed her, smiling, and her heart, which had not learnt to fear, did not recoil.

“Come eat,” said the snake, “and you will see what you are missing. You will become as wise as God. The husband who gazes in adoration upon your being will know that you are beautiful and to be forever desired.”

Eve looked down at her reflection and saw that she was indeed beautiful and wished the angels' wings away so that her image was less blurred. She stretched to the highest place her arm could reach and plucked the fruit and bit into its juicy pulp and savoured it.

“Adam, taste, oh taste,” she cried, “this fruit has the most succulent flesh of all.”

“Then we may eat and not sicken?”

He took and ate and it was indeed delicious. The pair were beside themselves with ecstasy to have penetrated the mind of God. They could be in control of their own destiny without let or hindrance. How impoverished seemed the paths of humility which required them to be beholden to their Creator, trusting him like a parent.

Soon the sun began to set, the shadows of evening gathered and the air grew chill. The couple knew that they were naked and, of themselves, without sustenance. Then they heard the footfall of the Lord God upon the stepping stones and were filled with dismay. The spirit of Nemesis stalked them. The lustre was fading fast and the Garden, though hauntingly beautiful, was suffused with a knowledge of blight.

The Lord God was as greatly displeased as he was disappointed. He seemed to have taken on their own fearsome aspect. And still he was mightier than they.

“I gave you the gift of free will, but for one thing. I charged you not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, lest you lose sight of your heritage. Sadly, you have disobeyed. Go, then, and find your own way. Man, dig for your supper as the serpent bites the dust, dig though the elements may conspire against you. Work out your salvation by your own toil. Woman, labour, bear the pangs of Creation in your own body. This is what you have elected.”

The couple's sorrow was profound, so that the Lord God had pity on them.

“Your free will I do not withdraw. Go and do it your way. But whenever you turn to me in distress, I will deliver you. Wrath shall become mercy until many things have come to pass and Heaven is restored.”

He pointed to the horizon beyond the Gates and ushered them out of the Garden, into the damp and the cold, to trudge the desert, looking for this oasis and that, tilling and sowing and reaping, tiring and begetting and striving. When they turned and looked back, there were guardian angels at each entrance armed with flaming swords and none could enter without a key.

All too quickly amnesia set in. And that, perhaps, was a mercy in itself. The memory of possession would have been too overwhelming, the agony of longing for paradise too acute, the remorse too burdensome to carry in the throes of all that must in future be endured.

But all was not to be lost. The where and when and why are gone, but Adam's children know that there is somewhere they belong, in a realm where peace and joy rule and there is no currency of having and getting. Sometimes the soul flashes with recognition, the scintilla of dew upon a rose, the lark song as the streaming sun rises and floods the opal sea with molten fire; the icon, idol and image that are inanimate conceits but yet speak of what once was and still might be again if only the cipher could be decoded, or the shifting formula adjusted this way or that.

Princes and Presidents have not discovered it. Tyrants have mocked it and tried to appropriate their empires by force. Everywhere men and women are in chains, no matter the colour of their skin, or their class or creed. They are pawns of their masters, of their régimes, their bankers, their inner gods, their dogmas. They are hooked on the biochemistry that will keep them forgetting. They are slaves to the lottery, supposing it can restore for them the kingdom of happiness.

The tragedy is that since the great Fall, wholeness has fragmented. Body, mind and spirit have come adrift from each other. The psyche is forced to seek consolation from its dreams and to cling to Hope, its guiding star.

Yet a key still remains under the lily-pot of innocence. It is the lost virtue of humility that admits we are not God. We need our Heavenly Father upon whom to rely in all our vagaries, who is willing to pour out upon us more blessings than we know how to ask for.

For me, this is the essence of freedom.

What we sacrifice is the yearning for what we think will make us happy: what we gain is what we truly need and much more besides.

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Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2010

Recent comment in this post
Stephen Evans
To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Monday, 04 August 2014 19:41
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1 Comment

Song of the Earth

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A little while back, 'your favourite novel' was suggested as a theme for a blog post. I wonder, if I perform this task with aplomb, do I get to marry the Prince? Maybe it would be easier to empty the pond with a thimble, or hew down the whole forest and chop the trunks into logs before nightfall.

Certainly it isn't easy to see the wood for the trees. A battery of titles springs to mind.

Readers are hooked on fiction for a myriad reasons. Pure entertainment and comedy are always indispensable. But so are those stories providing escape into another time and place, or insight into someone else's dilemma, a sharing of the mental, emotional and spiritual journey of those who have suffered and triumphed and whose wisdom we can adapt to our own experience. For many, it's fascinating to be drawn into the Byzantine maze of the criminal mind. Then there are authors who inspire us with their dazzling command of language, the picturesque metaphors, the smells, sounds, tastes, textures and colours of another state of being, realms we cannot visit by any other mode of travel than through the written word.

The only criterion which unites them all is that they must be well-crafted in order to linger in the memory.

If I mention one or two, I feel an injustice is done to a hundred others.

I love Anya Seton for her authentic recreation of history, the rich tapestry of interwoven realities from serfdom to kingship, Jane Austen for her arch and wicked humour and, of course, for Mr Darcy! Then there's Susan Hill for uncovering the dark nuances of an 'dinary' psyche; Anita Brookner for her microscopic forays into hidden crises within the mundane. There's William Golding for his archaeology of human nature stripped of civilisation and bereft of redemption. Perhaps this is better realised in RITES OF PASSAGE than LORD OF THE FLIES. The proposition of being confined aboard a vessel on voyage (during the Napoleonic Wars) with its set of characters representing the social compass, is, perhaps, a tamer analogy of our common experience. The imagery of D H Lawrence and his understanding of the treaty between his characters' inner selves, and of the anatomy of possession, is compelling and, for me, has been life-changing.

Virginia Woolf, too, is a writer like no other. She will alter your perception of the world for ever. Her stream-of-consciousness technique is irresistible. The sheer fluidity of her prose, the eclipsing and falling away as the spirits of her protagonists interact with each other, modify and change each other, now darkening and lightening the mood, now opaque, now transparent, motiveless, free-floating. The sheer rhythm of THE WAVES is hypnotic. It seems freed of the striving and yearning and wistfulness of TO THE LIGHTHOUSE.

But if I really do have to play the game and settle for one novel on my desert island, it would have to be SUNSET SONG by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. It describes (records?) the effects of the First World War on an isolated Scottish community with heart-wringing poetry and humour.

This Scottish writer died in 1935 at the age of thirty-four, a tragic end to a promising career. His output was phenomenal. It was as if he sensed that he didn't have long. (He might be compared to André Gide who cited fear of imminent death as his main incentive to write!) Gibbon managed to concertina the normal pace of maturity into less than two decades. Meanwhile, he was developing a mastery of language which is stunning and enthralling. His voice is truly original. Such was his imagination and empathy, that he could so convincingly describe childbirth that some readers thought the author must be a woman writing under a pseudonym.

SUNSET SONG is the first of a trilogy (A Scots Quair) about rural life, just inland of the East Coast of Scotland, below Aberdeen, at the turn of the twentieth century. It has been described as a 'crofting elegy, as eloquent in its championing of human rights as it is lyrical in its celebration of the natural world.'

It follows the life of Chris Guthrie whose mother, ground down and debilitated by endless child-bearing, poisons her young twins and commits suicide. With two older children despatched to relatives in Aberdeen, Chris and her brother, Will, are left to help their father run the farm. Will, however, soon grows tired of the deadly grind and, yearning for freedom, runs off to Argentina with his bride to seek his fortune there. When their father falls victim to a stroke shortly afterwards, Chris is hard put to hold things together. After his death, she wonders whether she should consider urban life and a teaching career, but the pull of the land, its rhythms and its turning seasons, are in her blood and bone. Enter Ewan Tavendale, a young farmer who wants to marry her. Together they try keep their way of life going under the threat of mechanisation and the calling of brave hearts to the Great War. These two factors are soon to alter the face of the landscape and horizon that belong to this folk heritage. The drumbeat of the wider world impinges and Ewan enlists as a soldier, only to lose his life, while Chris gives birth to a new generation.

This close-knit community is full of well-drawn characters. You can feel the pulse of them, hear their mannerisms, in time with the pulse of the land itself. They are funny and sad, tragic, joyful, disgruntled, mischievous. And all of their dialogue is bound into one long narrative prose poem that echoes of fable and rings with the cadences of the old Scots tongue. It is sprinkled with a wealth of descriptive Gaelic words, explained in a glossary at the end of the book.

Finally, as the community assembles at the prehistoric Standing Stones to uncover a memorial to those who have died, Chris clasps the hand of little Ewan, and feels somehow consoled, having learned that his father was shot as a deserter. He had realised the futility of war and had wanted to come back to her and the bairn, to Kinraddie and the precious land he had lost.

"And then, as folk stood dumbfounded...the Highland man McIvor tuned up his pipes and began to step slow round the stone circle and Blawearie Loch, slow and quiet, and folk watched him, the dark was near, it lifted your hair and was eerie and uncanny, the 'Flowers of the Forest' as he played it.

...It rose and rose and wept and cried, that crying for the men that fell in battle, and there was Kirsty Strachan weeping quietly and others with her, and the young ploughmen they stood with glum, white faces, they'd no understanding or caring, it was something that vexed them and tore at them, it belonged to times they had no knowing of.

He fair could play, the piper, he tore at your heart marching there with the tune leaping up the moor and echoing across the loch, folk said that Chris Tavendale alone shed never a tear, she stood quiet, holding her boy by the hand, looking down on Blawearie's fields till the playing was over. And syne folk saw that the dark had come and began to stream down the hill, leaving her there, some were uncertain and looked them back. But they saw the minister was standing behind her, waiting for her, they'd the last of the light with them up there, and maybe they didn't need it or heed it, you can do without the day if you've a lamp quiet-lighted and kind in your heart."

It's no spoiler to reveal that in Book Two, CLOUD HOWE, the widow takes up with the minister.

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2014

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I've never heard of it. Thank you for bringing this book to our attention. I'll put it on my list!
Thursday, 24 July 2014 20:57
Rosy Cole
We're admitted to a lost world in these books. They're so atmospheric and especially resonant just now with the focus on the cente... Read More
Friday, 25 July 2014 10:59
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2 Comments

Another Time, Another Place: The Power of Words and Music

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Once upon a time, in another place, I ran a music agency called Intermezzo. It was dedicated to themed words and music programmes for a variety of events, private and public. The notion of 'spectacle' didn't for the most part enter into it since we were there to enhance someone else's party. Marking a special occasion calls for ambience. There are things about tapping into the natural music of the universe, the rhythms of prose and poetry, that express our longing to harness destiny.

Having grown up in the fifties and sixties, when mass imagery did not clamour for attention the way it does now, and before television was a way of life and the cinema a rare treat, all we had was books and radio to populate our interior landscapes. Now that technology has melded them, we can listen to stories, plays and poetry, with echoes of tales told by the camp-fire on the edge of that purple twilight beguiling our ancestors.

There are vital clues in audio it is easy to miss with stage and screen. Shakespeare is wonderful and in many ways richer in nuance. It helps that radio stations can afford to employ the best actors when costs concomitant with film and theatre aren't an issue. It's a sophisticated art. The whole picture is painted with voice, neither fanfare nor foible to distract.

Many years ago, Catherine Cookson described how she liked to plan the following day's writing in utter silence before she went to sleep. Whilst she was mentally configuring situations, she was listening for that canny modulation in Northumbrian dialogue. She referred to it as 'going to the pictures'.

A friend recently described how singing in a language that is not native to the piece destroys the atmosphere and complementarity, the words fighting the music. Like good poetry that cannot be fully apprehended at a first, or second, or third, reading, sound and rhythm hook in their own right. T S Eliot is a supreme example, enigmatic, intriguing. Yes, in a strange way, at a primal level, we've heard it all before. There is an ageless truth we recognise, like a mother's heartbeat, or the whispering sea.

The urge to convey our childhood mythology to our children is strong and I can't help thinking that something got lost in translation when television took over and many children's programmes became cult viewing. Edward Lear became Mr Men and Grimms' Fairy Tales, Dr Who. There is a distinct breach in the culture of centuries at the point our children were learning to decipher the world. The strange thing is that though television is intensely graphic, it seldom resonates deep in the psyche. It may have thought-stimulating potential, but it is ephemeral and depends on the acuity of the mind's eye there and then. In the twenty-first century, we tend to believe that only what has passed through the rational mind has reality, when the mainsprings of creativity arise in the subterranean deeps beyond our control.

My early education was spent in Church of England schools (at primary level with a staunchly English Roman Catholic teacher who introduced us to the Apocrypha, also an honoured part of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the C of E) and I'm glad to have been compelled to recite long passages from the King James Bible by heart. Those cadences, despite the archaisms and quaint imagery, set me up for life as a writer and prompted my choice of reading, purely from their compelling resonance. While Shakespeare paved the way between the medieval era, the realms of Chaucer, and the Enlightenment, the Authorised Bible was, still is, a pillar of our heritage, though it is now largely deemed an irrelevance. Surely those vibrations delivered from a shared unconscious make it a masterpiece of language?

As to sound, its colour and architecture, I remember being enthralled aged three or four, by the brooding mystery of a serialisation of Wilkie Collins' The Woman In White on Woman's Hour (still going, like The Archers!) That story influenced my fledgling novels in subtle ways, but when I came to read the book as a young adult, I found its thickets tedious to penetrate and soon gave up trying to follow the plot.

We all agree that music has a magical potential to dissolve any kind of boundary you can think of. I have long been fascinated by the process of harmonising libretto and score as a heightened means of storytelling, but what about the spontaneous images and scenes evoked by arranged sequences of notation? The atmosphere, approaching something like memory, of times and places we have not experienced. In a similar way, perfume can sometimes trigger nostalgia for venues that belong nowhere in the context of the life we know.

When I was thirteen, I fabricated a tale to music by André Grétry, logging down impressions, passage by passage, and linking them together. In my head, I wanted to create a ballet. I remember the piece was entitled Auphine and featured a black rose with mystical powers. The project withered when my Dad took a look at it and said there was no such thing as a 'black rose'. Several years later, when I'd embarked on novel-writing as a serious enterprise, like many scribes, I would use music as inspiration for the mood of a scene. I found it gave me courage to get words down on the page (ballpoint in exercise books in those days!) The overture to Beethoven's Fidelio accompanied the early passages of my second 'apprentice' historical novel, set in Paris at the time of the French Revolution. I knew nothing of the opera at that time and was only a vaguely familiar with the music. When, two years later, I attended a production in which friends were starring, I was astonished to see the scenes from my story translated to the stage! By what strange alchemy do the laws of physics and biochemistry become image?

One thing we can be sure of, our senses, and there may be many more than five, ebb and flow and overlap in a rich multiplicity. They are not as distinct as our impression of them. Use earplugs for any purpose and you could find yourself in trouble with spatial awareness. I was told by a musician that the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, who is profoundly deaf, senses music and vivid colour through vibration along the spine.

How the blind decipher sound, what kind of picture is formed in the imagination, can't really be known or compared. I'd like to think it's something the rest of us might well recognise.

But does image evoke sound the way sound projects image on to the imagination's screen?

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Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2014

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Rosy, you put into beautiful words much of how I think and feel about sounds and music vs image. I strongly suspect that sound tr... Read More
Monday, 21 July 2014 10:37
Rosy Cole
I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Katia, and that it meant a lot to you. If experience has taught me anything it's that what I intuit... Read More
Monday, 21 July 2014 14:54
Stephen Evans
I am reminded of two things: one, that the Elizabethans spoke of hearing a play, rather than seeing one; and two, that very funny ... Read More
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 04:21
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Latest Comments

Monika Schott Farm Reflections: The Migrant Camp
20 October 2017
Thanks, Stephen. It's an important part of history. It must be captured.
Monika Schott Farm Reflections: The Migrant Camp
20 October 2017
Thanks, Rosy, that's a lovely thing to say. I am enjoying it and why shouldn't I share the joy! The ...
Stephen Evans Farm Reflections: The Migrant Camp
20 October 2017
Wonderful that the story of this community is being preserved. Bravo.
Rosy Cole Farm Reflections: The Migrant Camp
19 October 2017
Your enjoyment of this project is infectious, Moni, and unusual and fascinating to read. It's not so...
Rosy Cole Down with Moonlight: A One-Minute Play
19 October 2017
'Course it is. I bet you calculated that when you were still in diapers, as you say over there, and ...

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