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. 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 Labrador cross, Poppy, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

The Soul Of Genius

 

 

Back in 2015, Blackwell's Bookshops and the Bodleian Library jointly offered an Academic Writing Prize of £2,500 for the best student essay entitled What is Genius? It was timed to celebrate the opening of the new Weston Library where an inaugural exhibition, Marks of Genius, displaying 130 of the Bodleian's greatest treasures, was being mounted. Whilst 'genius' is a hackneyed term which undervalues its essential meaning, perhaps, after all, it is universally available.

I have been unable to discover the winning essay, but decided to share with you a few thoughts in the following poem. This is from my second collection, Mysteries of Light, which is currently being compiled.

 

 

A Talent Set On Fire
 

Genius is talent set on fire by courage.
Henry Van Dyke


Genius is interior light
the fathomless world of the crystal
caught in a needling sunbeam
or quivering candlelight

It is not of itself intellectual
nor inspiration, acumen, slick memory
the crisp organisation of words
on the uninformed page

Genius burns without consuming
like Moses' bush on Sinai
discard your mental shoes
this is Holy Ground
a penetrating glimpse
of form and meaning
hard edges melting
in luminous mist
patterns within patterns
reverberant echoes
from wild forgotten caves
pounded by tides subject
to lunar magnetism
the synaptic lightning
forked from the lodestone
of archaic memory

The landscape of genius
is the sheer rock face
grappled with irons and grit
for a squint at Eternity

 

The Great White Peak - Edgar Payne

from Mysteries of Light (forthcoming collection)

Copyright

© Rosy Cole 2017

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
I sometimes feel writing is like flying, flapping your wings up and down over and over in an attempt to stay aloft long enough to... Read More
Sunday, 09 April 2017 04:42
Rosy Cole
That's a very good simile. So true! As I see it, genius is 'spirit' and can be good or bad, either creative or subversive. We're ... Read More
Sunday, 09 April 2017 17:40
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Lily Pads And Leaping Frogs

 

 

Article first published elsewhere in 2009 and re-issued in response to Katherine Gregor's post

 

About forty years ago, there was a daffy Beatrix Potter-like image in circulation based on the conjoined masculine and feminine symbols. The wisdom quoted was that Woman was the lily-pad from which Man could leap into the ether.

Why this should have been current when Feminism was digging in its heels is interesting and somewhat ambivalent.

With Darwin up for consideration again, (incidentally, I have no problem with Darwin and the Bible) I recently revisited the Genesis account of Creation. Post-Fall, one translation states of Woman: "...your yearning shall be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you."  You don't have to be a theologian or a scientist to agree or disagree with this. It has its own compelling mythic power and rings psychologically true beneath all the layers of enlightened revision.

Commonly, women put the interests of their menfolk to the fore and will be the first to shut down those aspects of personality and aspiration which have no room to flourish within coupledom, for the salvation of the unit. This is the principal reason that many fewer of them have historically gained recognition in the Arts.

Isn't it also the underlying reason why Political Feminism is doomed to bring on a whole new set of problems in spite of its achievements? Whatever measures are taken, the truth will shuffle the cards to achieve a status quo and the 'glass ceiling' will exert compression like some ghastly scene from a James Bond film.

 

 

No sane person could be against redressing injustice and giving women an equal education and the option of a life without marriage, particularly an independent caring, teaching or artistic life, using her creative and nurturing skills. But that's humanitarianism. There's a sharp difference between that and the drive to compete with men in the boardroom. That sort of high-octane ambition generates resentment, proves nothing and is not worth sacrifice. (However, I am glad there are women in Parliament and some other high places, representing the female experience, who are prepared to struggle with the practical and emotional demands of their career for the greater good.)

Feminism as a Movement has emasculated men to the point where they're no longer confident of their role and can't win either way. It has also produced an excess of androgen in women to the point where some are distressed to find themselves sprouting beards!

Jung explains that pair-bonding is secured by the feminine in the man treating with the masculine in the woman. This confirms the essential identity of both and makes the relationship foursquare.

Women need to take on board, not just in an intellectual way, that on the shared platform of conjugal harmony, he has not arrived on the same train. Novelists, like Danielle Steel, have grown wealthy on peddling an archetype of manhood that is a woman's fantasy. We wish men were like that. At least we think we do. This makes us disappointed in reality and each dysfunctional.

It's all out of kilter and we must make shift as best we can. It can do no harm to trade chores. That's teamwork in a society shot through with multiple stresses and it can't be denied that men possess true inspiration in the culinary department, something that would have been anathema to our fathers and grandfathers, except in the Savoy Grill. But to insist on a division of labour that undermines the natural strengths of each gender is to invite chaos.

While women are the ones to bear children, there will always be discrimination against them in the workplace, with the best will in the world. That we ourselves have undervalued our child-rearing and homemaker vocation has come back to bite us. We are still not content and don't command the same male respect for our role which our mothers and grandmothers took for granted. Were women ever more august than on the cusp of Emancipation? The hand that rocked the cradle a century ago knew a thing or two and was well wised up as to how to rule the world. They fondly allowed their menfolk to cling to the illusion that they were the 'logical' ones! It is not a matter of disingenuousness, but of humility. Suffrage was necessary, but has the underlying dynamic really changed, though with each generation it may take on a different aspect?

The wisdom of persevering in adversity is powerful and wreaks change, no matter that it sometimes looks like defeat while that's going on.

Childbirth may be awesome, but I sometimes think it was a mistake to allow husbands and partners into the delivery room. Our forebears just got on with it and preserved a little mystique. Today, we somehow get the idea that we're not actually living unless we're 'on stage' every step of the way.

That's probably down to Shakespeare. Now, I wonder whether he was able to appreciate that Anne Hath-a-way with him?

Upon reflection, perhaps it was the other way round!

 

 

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
This is a very interesting piece, Rosy, and I agree with muchl of the views you express (only "much of" simply because, lacking di... Read More
Saturday, 18 March 2017 12:35
Rosy Cole
I'm glad the post still has resonance. As Mrs Thatcher famously said: "The veneer of civilisation is very thin." It seems even thi... Read More
Monday, 20 March 2017 15:14
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On The Queen's Sapphire Jubilee, A Memory

 

Burton-on-the-Wolds School, Leicestershire (Today, no longer a school)

 

It was a numb and lustreless day, spun out of many such, just like today, with ghosts of paler cloud shifting across the sky as if they knew where they were going.

Wet tarmac in the schoolyard, redundant climbing frame, the ropes slippery and uninviting. ‘February fill-dyke’, folk said.

The press of us in a tiled corridor, its walls upholstered with winter coats. The classroom floorboards worn, unvarnished and riddled with splinters. The muzzy smell of distant gas as the cast-iron boiler, fed from an unwieldy hod, sucked flame-sustaining humours out of coke.

Attention gained by the whipcrack of a cane against the long side of a teacher’s desk. The Road to Damascus, the poem of the boy who ‘ran away to Scotland, the people for to see’, times tables and spelling bees, words like ‘parliament’ for six year olds, and what was the opposite of ‘horizontal’?

Though small and rural, tt was a community of random cultures and many whispered secrets. The children of a shell-shocked world, who often looked pinched and old before their time, were weathering a raft of epidemics without modern drugs and antibiotics, and fed on the produce of ration books and allotments. There was National powdered milk, free orange juice and ghastly fish-oil which mothers supplemented with Extract of Malt. That treacly spoon meant it was high time to leave for the school bus which would lurch and sway through the lanes to the next village and to lessons prefaced with Assembly: The Lord’s My Shepherd, God be in my Head and in my Understanding, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, and Ye Holy Angels Bright, not forgetting The Lord’s Prayer.

A strange miasma wreathed those days, the fumes of something hellishly forlorn our infant consciousness could not have earmarked, but which, later, I came to associate with the Holocausts. The very firmament shook at those atrocities and sent its warning vapours filtering deep within the spirit. But for the most part, we knew not good or bad. Life was just that, Life. We entertained ourselves with endless games. We listened to adventures on the radio. We read books. We took part in Nativity Plays and pantomimes, marching two by two to the village hall for rehearsals a mile or more away, past the Polish Refugee Camp, home to many of us. We were conscious of birdsong and minnows in the stream which we fished and released in string-handled jam jars. We picnicked freely in the fields and left no litter. We could identify flowers and knew where vegetables came from. We could recite passages of Shakespeare and Robert Browning, whether we understood them or not.

Entrance to Burton-on-the-Wolds Polish Refugee Camp

We were brimming with optimism, despite it all. The world was crawling out of a long black tunnel. We knew each other and took the safety of our rural community for granted.

On the afternoon of the day in question, one day in early February, we were listening to a story, having succumbed to a post-meridian lassitude. In the background, the distant clatter of kitchen plates being washed. There was no dining room. We ate at our desks, filing up to receive our ‘commons’ which arrived in huge metal containers from a factory some way off. I think it might have been a Rudyard Kipling story we were absorbed in, but couldn’t say for sure, when, abruptly, there was a scurry of feet, the echoing doorlatch lifted and, to our consternation, the Head Dinner Lady rushed in, hand clasped across her bosom, biting back tears of distress:

“We’ve just heard! The King is dead! He died in bed this morning!”

We were awestruck. We had no idea what it signalled. No idea of the rallying to the  British Crown, the excitement to come and the reinforced sense of identity. We were taken to the cinema the next year to see the Coronation in colour and afterwards play-acted it for months on end.

But a few people were lucky enough to afford televisions. The sets came with nine inch screens, so that what was lost in breadth was made up for in seeing the magical and fixating events as they happened.

That was the first one-way ray of exposure to the outside world. In the following decades, it was to fan out, and out, and out, into the all-consuming multi-media we know today, invading community life and uncoupling us from our own ‘real time’.

As a British Hungarian refugee friend commented a little while ago: There was much to be thankful for.

  



Information on Burton-on-the-Wolds Polish Refuge Camp

Recent comment in this post
Katherine Gregor
What a fascinating recollection, Rosy.
Sunday, 12 February 2017 14:00
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Unsung Song

 VeronicaVeronese_D_G_Rossetti.jpg - 112.48 kB

 
I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.
Rabindranath Tagore

 

My song resounds within a cloistered chamber. Set free, it might expire, like a fragile bird, on frosted thorns beneath the window.

How shall I cross the gulf between you and me without a Voice? A signature Voice, with a timbre, tone and inflection of its own, forged in grief and guilt, and tempered by the joys and blisses of my moments? A Voice, which, because it is authentic, steels me with hope and courage. I am God's creation. And so are you.

I must learn the art of listening, of crafting sentences for ears tuned into the zeitgeist and assumptions of our present world, our language and distracted themes. I must remember that cadence creates its own dynamic. Which is good. For you have not seen me coming. My word images will project onto the blank screen of your mind and they must be as finely-honed as I can make them, minimalist, many say, but as natural as the rhythm of the sea. Then I shall hope that the strings of your spirit will be touched, and that some vibrant echo will linger when my Voice is no longer a memory.

This is the singer's challenge. And the writer's, profoundly so.We all have gifts. What can we bring?

But when you feel you have no song to sing, perhaps you should examine your life for its abundance of blessings. A bird may sing on winter thorns when there is only ice to slake his thirst.


A few quotes from those who have practised these arts and know how the senses may flow into one stream.


Of course, there are those critics—New York critics as a rule—who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings**

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.
Emily Dickinson

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.
Jalaluddin Rumi

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
Claude Monet

Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.
Victor Hugo

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
Rabindranath Tagore

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb

Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth.
Edith Piaf

Sweetest the strain when in the song /The singer has been lost.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (Ward)

God respects me when I work; but God loves me when I sing.
Rabindranath Tagore

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
Chinese Proverb

Sing again, with your dear voice revealing/A tone Of some world far from ours, /Where music and moonlight and feeling /Are one.
Percy Bysshe Shelley.

** (Interview: The Paris Review)

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Love that first Tagore quote - too true!
Sunday, 08 January 2017 04:38
Rosy Cole
I think we've all been there, Steve. Hope you can take some inspiration from this post. One of the good things about the vintage y... Read More
Monday, 09 January 2017 17:25
Ken Hartke
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. -- Chinese Proverb Blessings to those who plant the seed f... Read More
Tuesday, 10 January 2017 18:46
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