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 Springador, Jack, who keeps a firm paw on the work-and-walkies schedule!

The Memory Of A Lullaby

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Today is Mothers Day in Britain, or more correctly, Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. Since Easter is a Moveable Feast, the date is not fixed, but always falls close to Lady Day, or the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin on March 25th. Before the schism with Rome in Tudor times, the whole of life revolved around the liturgical calendar which bound together all ranks of society and shades of belief and provided appropriate rituals for the expression of the whole spectrum of human emotions. Centuries later, when that way of life had long withered on the vine, right up until a decade or two after WWII, along with the seasons and the phases of the moon, those festal days were still marked in ordinary diaries as a matter of course, though few were observed. Some hark back to time immemorial in one form or another. Pagans will point out that these events were 'hijacked' by Christianity rather than subsumed in a new enlightenment about the nature of God. 

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Mothering Sunday has no feminist charge. Traditionally, it was the day on which daughters who had gone into domestic service to relieve the burden on the family budget and increase the chance of meeting a spouse, were allowed home bearing gifts for their mothers. The gift of life itself was thereby honoured.

It's worth remarking that not all children are born to loving mothers, though the notion is an anathema striking at the very roots of our humanity. For them, I recommend the Rosary with its dynamic interior blessings. If approached with expectancy and an open mind, it will gradually wreak a change in perspective that is life-transforming.

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I have looked high and low for notable quotes about mothers and have found them largely impoverished, either conveyed in platitudes and fluffy jokes, or else wreathed in an idealism and mystique that hints at our fumbling search for Mary, the New Eve and essence of motherhood. Such 'wisdom' subscribes very little to the arduous, if noble, struggle of trial and error that is a common reality amid the joys and delights. The quote lending a title to this post is one coined by widely-loved American blogger, Robert Brault, and couches a thought which, when examined, is quite profound and echoes the Hail Mary:

'Perhaps we are given a mother that we might take into death the memory of a lullaby.'

God bless all mothers today. May they and their children find their way, linked by a bond which hallows the positive. 

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In celebration of the theme, these paintings are from the wonderful Pennsylvania-born artist of the 19th Century, Mary Cassatt, a friend of Degas.

'I used to go and flatten my nose against that window and absorb all I could of his art," she once wrote to a friend. "It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.'

As a woman, she held her corner among the male-dominated artistic establishment of her day, and defied her father in order to study in Paris. He claimed he would rather see her dead than a Bohemian in that city. Thanks to her conviction and persistence, she was able to bring to the attention of the world a powerful feminine narrative that is fresh, subtle and mesmerising.

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Copyright

© ©RosyCole2015

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
"It's worth remarking that not all children are born to loving mothers". Deeply sad – and, sadly, true. Motherhood is a blessing... Read More
Sunday, 15 March 2015 15:54
Rosy Cole
I suspect you and I have similar experiences, Katia. I can't say that my mother should never have been a mother, because in the gr... Read More
Sunday, 15 March 2015 17:25
Stephen Evans
You and I have written of mothers, yours and mine. The distinction between mother and mothering maybe allows a broader and possibl... Read More
Sunday, 15 March 2015 18:03
1660 Hits
12 Comments

Up To Speed

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The sixty-sixth day of the year!

Time's marching on apace,

The weeks are washed downstream as one

In destiny's mill-race

 

They say that life is what takes place

While, otherwise employed,

We image on the calendar

A purpose unalloyed

 

But then that's merely virtual

Vicarious, if you like,

It won't satisfy the deadlines

On a pledge's unpaid spike

 

We work, we love, we eat, we sleep,

We rest – it still goes fast,

If we can't grab it by the collar,

Our future will be past!

 

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Copyright

© ©RosyCole2009, 2015

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
I like the rhythm of your poem, Rosy.
Saturday, 07 March 2015 20:11
Rosy Cole
Thanks, Katia. It's just the way it happened :-) I don't follow fashions, prefer just to let the subject, as I view or experience ... Read More
Sunday, 08 March 2015 13:13
Anonymous
"...hither hurried whence...whither hurried hence..." How do you do it? Bullseye every time! You've written what I feel every day... Read More
Sunday, 08 March 2015 05:01
1513 Hits
6 Comments

Vines And Rubies




'...But still the Vine her ancient ruby yields,
    And still a Garden by the Water blows.'


The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

 

'The countless gold of a merry heart,
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye,
The indolent never can bring to the mart,
Nor the secret hoard up in his treasury.
'

William Blake

'Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies,
But keep your fancy free.'


A.E. Housman



Recital in Red

 

Crimson crayon, satin-bright, picked from looped array
gleefully slicked on crinolines of Christmas, Firebird, Red Shoes
red-cloaked little maids hoodwinked by vixens in eerie woods

Fancies spun from fire sparks speckling the chimney
red glow of ravines bringing tinder to life
tantalising tales and runes read in the embers

Pied Piper sporting tunic of scarlet and saffron
cherry-cheeked children limned by Miss Attwell
ruby rosehip syrup measured out in stainless spoons

Florid Empire apple, long treasured in tissue
polished on pinafore, a gift from the cupboard
a secret stash of praline crisp in winking foil

Garnet arils in a pomegranate, pin-forked and tasted
poppies by the wayside, blood-splashed among the corn
naked osiers carmine-sketched on February skies

Tomatoes on the vine, beetroot bubbling in the pan
tinctured deeper than claret and bottled plums and damsons
paraded in the pantry next to Red Leicester cheese

Sentinel postbox flagging up communication
marking red letter days that memories are made of
rose-red party frock and incipient romance

Renaissance red of winter wedding, anthurium bouquet
flamenco red of Carmen's garb and firefly cigarette girls
flirty skirts of gypsy troupe at La Traviata ball

Fire-opal dawns, travel, Ravel and revelations
bronze-quilt of pantiles amid the Tuscan foothills
sunrise over Bruges and sunset over Sounion

Lacquer red of scarf worn by Aristide Bruant
splintered spectral warmth of Mucha's Sarah Bernhardt
muted tones of tapestries of medieval grape-treading

Madder and vermilion of Caravaggio's agony
carnelian-studded Crucifix and windows stained with wine
wildfire hue of cope on the glorious Feast of Pentecost

Blazing gules in heraldry and heritage and history
blood red in native flag and sanguine shades of birth
vital inspiration and the cutting edge of living...

 

'These gems have life in them. Their colours speak, say what words fail of.'

George Eliot

For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.'

Proverbs 8:11 (NIV)

 

Rubies

They brought me rubies from the mine,
And held them to the sun;
I said, they are drops of frozen wine
From Eden's vats that run.

I looked again,--I thought them hearts
Of friends to friends unknown;
Tides that should warm each neighboring life
Are locked in sparkling stone.

But fire to thaw that ruddy snow,
To break enchanted ice,
And give love's scarlet tides to flow,
When shall that sun arise?


Ralph Waldo Emerson


Taken from a new series entitled 'Touchstones' at pilgrimrose.com in which the colours of gems spark memories

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2015

Recent Comments
Anonymous
"Fantasies spun from fire sparks catching in the chimney... tantalising tales and runes read in the embers..." You have me seeing... Read More
Monday, 02 March 2015 00:03
Rosy Cole
Charlie, I am sorry to learn you've been in the grip of 'The Octopus' again. It may not feel like it at the time, but it will pass... Read More
Monday, 02 March 2015 12:30
Anonymous
Thanks, Rosy. Actually, I've spent the last 73 years exploring different ways of dealing with this but my main focus today is on y... Read More
Monday, 02 March 2015 13:33
2076 Hits
3 Comments

Facing The Music

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A recent comment on this site brought to mind my shelved novel ENTERTAINING ANGELS which I've occasionally blogged elsewhere in its unedited state. It's the saga of a dysfunctional family struggling in the aftermath of two world wars and revolves around a mother/daughter conflict, winding up just before the millennium. In this passage, Isabelle (Belle), casualty of a lavender marriage and mother of a growing son, is finally striking out and pursuing her dreams in the world of music.

 

It was a modern studio, airy and spacious, with skylights and halogen spotlights. A waxed pine floor dimly reflected its only functional ornament, a Japanese grand piano, dark as liquorice. This elegant beast dwarfed the flimsy steel stand which had been dauntingly placed in its lee where the singer might address his score fully observed. Lecture chairs were stacked below a notice board announcing entertainments and workshops past and pending. A series of murals enhanced the orchestral theme, examples of student art. They were bold, imagistic creations, smacking of Picasso, Braque and Gauguin, transmitting some dreamlike truth beyond a slavish fidelity to shape and viewpoint. What struck the viewer more than anything else was the intimate relationship of the performers with their chosen instruments - as though they would have been limbless without them - giving off a febrile animal passion to achieve a state of being beyond their bodies.

"Amazing, aren't they?" Gabriel said. It was a throwaway remark. Compared to their first encounter, he was disconcertingly withdrawn.

"So confident!"

"That's youth for you. Treading where angels fear. Give me a committed young ensemble. They're able to tap resources they didn't know they had." He gave her a churlish grin. "That's before life puts the boot in, I expect."

"You mean they become overly aware of pitfalls?"

"Something like that." He was like a watchful tiger in a cage and appeared to have difficulty focusing on the task before him. He slumped down on to the piano stool, absently tinkering with the keyboard in a driven manner. "Wrong key..."

"It's important to learn the rules of perspective. Fundamental."

"Knowing when to break them - when it's justified - that's the stuff of genius."

"It all depends where you fit the frame."

"Quite," Gabriel said. "Now, shall we start at the beginning...wherever that may be? Let's assume you've had no experience at all. Let's make music!"

She stood with her back to the wall as instructed, so that her posture was best aligned to produce unhindered sound. He told her that singing was breathing and that the singer must be prepared to let loose his burdens before launching into song. "Offload the past. Shed all the guilt and resentment. Come freely to the music."

Naturally, it made sense. His voice had a nectarous quality. She began to feel that he was required to be as adept a psychologist as he was a musician. There was an intimate element to the procedure which she had not reckoned upon. Lessons with Joan Sandys had not been like this, just scales and arpeggios, jumps of fourths, fifths, sixths and sevenths, and a few laboured songs within earshot of someone who was benevolently critical and, in the main, undemanding. Belle suspected that Joan had not taken her seriously, perhaps had been too jaded with living and had not seen any potential in her.

There followed a treatise on breathing technique and a series of one and three-note exercises in changing vowel shapes. "You're holding back," Gabriel shouted from the piano. "Why are you holding back? There's a voice and a half in there. A true bel canto. And a top D or E, at a guess."

"I don't know, I don't know," she said, dismayed. "I am trying!"

It was as if she had been catapulted to some high ledge with no safety net and no crevice for sanctuary. The musicians on the walls were demonstrating their skills in a frenzy of ecstacy, or else languid from the vision glimpsed. If their instruments were part of their being, how much more so was her own voice? She stood alone in echoing space wondering why she had submitted to such exposure, why it hurt and why, at that moment, it mattered more than anything else on earth.

The momentum was in no danger of flagging. They progressed to more melodious arpeggios, ascending and descending, rising again to sustain the highest note. "Don't lose the support," Gabriel cried. "Now float it! Fly!"

I can do better than this, Belle thought in a sudden access of determination. But instead of the single thread of silver she was aiming for, the notes issued thin and timorous and died on the air, taking refuge in the place which had given them birth.

"Why are you choking the sound?" demanded Gabriel. Realising his professional methods were in jeopardy, he let go a sigh and tried to suppress his exasperation. "Look, " he said, "you're capable of breath in volumes, your pitch is good. Excellent, even. The transition from head to chest voice is smooth as cream. Why do you expire before you've seen the view from the top of the hill?"

A cloud filtered out the natural brightness from the skylight. The interior lights shone accusingly. Belle was at a loss to know why she was downhearted and unreasonably ashamed. It was only a singing lesson. She was giving it her best shot. Was it because the constraint suggested she was not in control of something as basic as her own voice?

"It's such a personal instrument, the voice," she said.

"Yes," he replied. "It is. Listen, I'm not judging you."

"No."

"My function is not to be some kind of Svengali, either. I'm in the business of ensuring that good voices don't go to waste. There's enough gloom in the world.”

She flicked him a glance of rapier understanding and began to search in the compartments of her bag for Kleenex. She was angry with herself for betraying her own poverty. "It heals," she heard herself snuffle. "The music is so healing, so other..."

"But that, "Gabriel said gently, "is sometimes preceded by a healing crisis. We cannot escape these things. Truth will out." Over the years, he had formed the opinion that the services of a vocal coach were at least equally valid with those of a counsellor, only the tools and the approach were different. "Why don’t we try developing the mezzo range for the time being?” he suggested. “But now, I think it's best if we call it a day. We'll dispense with the fee for this week."

"Oh, but I couldn't..."

"No, I insist." After a moment's hesitation, he said pointedly, catching Belle's eye: "I wouldn't dream of drawing on your account, Mrs Loveless."

She made to leave, bundling a redundant sheaf of scores back into her music case. Though she could bear to have fluffed the grade, she was appalled at proving herself a coward. "I ought not to have taken your time..."

"I'm glad you did. I hope I shall see you next week, Belle. At the same time? We might do some Vaccai exercises. If you don't have a copy, perhaps you could get one? The Schirmer edition is best."

"Thank you." She smiled politely.

"Facing the music can be painful..." As the phrase fell, he caught the heel of her hand in passing. Simultaneously, a shock of electricity seared through them both, its sharp, mercurial pain striking through hands and feet alike. In an automatic gesture, Belle snatched her hand away. Just then, a smart knock on the door heralded Jeremy Kay, the Head of the Music Department, who leaned inside to ask if Gabriel could spare a few moments at the end of the session. "Need to pick your brains, old son," he said.

"Five minutes," Gabriel said, spreading the fingers of one hand and managing to look both startled and sheepish at once. There was a glint of amusement in Kay's eyes as he retreated. He'd no idea who Belle was but thought the pair of them looked exceptionally well matched with their Tudor dynasty colouring.

In a whirlwind, Belle disappeared down the short staircase from the mezzanine floor, turning out of sight.

"Well, well," Kay mumbled, glancing after her. "Tell me it wasn't something you said, dear fellow."

"I couldn't vouch for it," Silk grinned. It was a rueful grin and the Aegean-blue eyes looked haunted.

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Copyright

© ©Rosy Cole 2008,2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2015

Recent Comments
Anonymous
Naturally, without knowing where the story has been or where it's going it's hard to get a feel for the undercurrents. What is Bel... Read More
Saturday, 21 February 2015 00:15
Rosy Cole
In this scene, the relationship is a professional one on academic turf where the protocol is fairly rigorous. That they have run i... Read More
Saturday, 21 February 2015 11:46
Anonymous
Wow! But she was hurt? Or annoyed. Guess I'd have to read the book. I remember telling people, "if that's what you got I guess tha... Read More
Saturday, 21 February 2015 14:23
2991 Hits
7 Comments

Writing For Life

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Thank you, Rosy for reading and commenting.
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