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!

Swan Song

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On the Feast of St Cecilia, November 22


The days are sweet with lavender,
rosemary, hibiscus and lilies,
bees suck petal-satin throats,
thrum a hum of multiverse,
melting veils, imparting honey
to chaste Cecilia's song.
Emollient the olive groves and tart the lemon.
The vines are drenched in peridot
and geckoes dart among the leaves.
Night crickets throb their notes in sward
and moonstruck pines whisper of the sea,
a soothing, plangent litany.

Footfalls upon the tessarae:
wafted air strums kithara strings,
proposing chords celestial
and plucking nerves.
He is come out of the Alban Hills,
a patrician youth whose profile scythes,
keen and lean; relief of chiselled limbs,
taut with harnessed power,
a pagan son whose object deities
beguile, confuse and disappoint.
He is a god himself, Valerian,
rooted in rock like the plant.

Now the string bends to the arrow
and nature reins her mettled team.
How can fidelity to Christ,
the Son of Man, be reconciled
with obedience to parents
and to unreplenished earth?
Dashed promises, like amphorae
shattered upon ferrous earth,
let spill the Water and the Wine
of heavenly banquets.
This marriage of uneven yoke
must stake or break Cecilia!

The song dies in her breast.
What manner of having and not having
is the truth of it? But vows!
The dilemma has her seraph mute.
Speak, Guardian! she cries,
bending the knee in heart-wrung prayer.
Fear not, the Angel says, be wedlocked,
explain the plight, bid thy spouse
meet me in the Appian Way,
trust, and he shall change his tune,
in honour bound and shared virginity
to bear the Cross of Christ in melody.

Noble Valerian, yet a heathen,
so loves his wife, he dreams her dream
of flesh dilute in ecstasy of being,
no ebbing passion, no turgid clay,
and strikes out on the flinted road
only to meet the Blessed Pope himself.
Urban's eloquence spurs bold revision,
points out a bearing strange but close at hand.
Polyphony enchants Valerian's return,
the bridal bower, thronged with lark and thrush,
rings with blended harmonies
of mortal and immortal themes.

A chaplet of roses, barbed with Thorns,
adorns Valerian's brow. The Angel smiles.
Cecilia's braid of lilies honours
an ever-bountiful Madonna,
but no sword has pierced her soul as yet.
The golden couple tread the Narrow Way,
and strive and sow in grief and gladness
under a jealous Emperor's rule,
their simple faith and sunlit vista obscure,
a threat to pride and overweening power.
Be sure that buckling reason will hold sway
and rob the life that yields eternity.

They fell the bridegroom where he stands,
neither do his convert kin escape.
Three times the axe is laid on sweet Cecilia's neck
and three times is repelled. 


Her songs of praise they cannot sever,
even as God's Mercy claims her.
So Love released induces this world's tears,
till every sound becomes the Music of the Spheres.

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Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2009, 2012 & 2013

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The Grit Under The Shell

As it's October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, I'm revisiting a post which first appeared on pilgrimrose.com two years ago. I hope it will give courage to any reader going through a similar experience just now. 

 

The turn of events this summer has caused me to reflect on the nature of fear and how it distorts perspective. The chimera takes on a palpable form, prompting actions that aren't contained in an imagined world, but have negative consequences, even fatal consequences, in the human arena when released into the ether. What is war but fear of another's capability to destroy us, or to sequester those resources we deem essential to wealth and happiness?

Fear is the first and last enemy.

Behind every fear lurks the shadow of death. Death is many things and 'death' as transition from the mortal state may be the least of them. Death is what happens when we can no longer see those we love. But death assumes other guises, always vanishing from the corner of our vision whilst remaining unnervingly present in the wings. Fear of losing power, possession and control over circumstances, when a desired and seemingly philanthropic end justifies dubious and destructive means, isn't that the real death?

On November 1 (All Saints Day) I'll be undergoing surgery for breast cancer. Yes, it's the Big C word, but I'm lucky. It's not far advanced and is not the most dangerous form. But there are complications as regards the actual site. It's just possible that it wouldn't have given any trouble. I had no symptoms, so no inkling that anything was wrong. It was picked up by a routine check which is ironic because I feel healthier than for years. Since then, a series of scans and biopsies seems to indicate that, so far, it hasn't spread. I'm hoping and praying that lab tests after surgery will confirm that. Chemo and radiotherapy are likely to be on the agenda but need a careful 'balance of risks' assessment for those approaching the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'. I'm not at all sure I'll opt for routine treatments. There's no right or wrong. There are choices.

As a vegetarian, almost a vegan, dietary strategy has needed only a little tweaking. It's been interesting how I've experienced cravings for those ingredients which will best fight off the disease (this, before I knew why!) Honey, lemon, cayenne*, pak choi, parsley, turmeric, green green leaves, apricots, almonds, brazils, black pepper, olives, berries, ginger, green tea, black tea, red and black grapes, Mediterranean herbs...organic foods, and goats' cheese which hides no harmful bovine growth hormone. These things not only strengthen the immune system, but some contain specific substances that actively target cancer cells and the way oestrogen acts upon them. There's a lot of academic research out there about natural aromatase inhibitors which has excited and intrigued biochemists. Dramatic results have been obtained on some quite advanced cancers. I guess it won't be long before pharmaceutical companies are patenting our hedgerows and vegetable patches as Monsanto has done with broccoli! This, aside from what can be achieved through professional homoeopathic treatment for individual constitution.

But I'd be lying if I pretended this blow hasn't been a rollercoaster, especially in the early stages. We have to remember, though,that nothing is a guarantee of life or death. We naturally look for securities, but to expect a settled life on this fluctuating planet is to be prepared to live with illusion. The only thing to do is to get on with living and look over this hurdle into the wide blue yonder. I can't do as some are able to do, deny the diagnosis – though, strangely, there is evidence that it may work - but I can, through the strengthening grace of God, deny it's power to instill fear and to prejudice the future.

I am not a victim. I am not a statistic. Statistics may illustrate broad trends. What is factored in, what is left out, who construes the results, all call for penetrating analysis. I am, quite simply, in the hands of God and grateful beyond words for the kind thoughts and prayers of friends, especially as family is small. Prayer keeps us afloat and prevents us from being pulled down into the undertow, no matter that the circumstances themselves may appear unaltered.

Two things I've learnt from the past. One, that some of the most joyful and enriching experiences arrive in the midst of trauma and crisis – how is that possible? Two, that there needs to be irritating grit under the shell for the oyster to weep its precious tears of pearl.

If you happen to be facing the enemy just now, I hope that some of this, and the quotes that follow, will encourage you.

God bless!


The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. Joseph Campbell


All is well, tho' faith and form/ Be sunder'd in the night of fear. Alfred Lord Tennyson


When we fear things I think that we wish for them... every fear hides a wish. David Mamet


Fear is the parent of cruelty. James Anthony Froude


No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. Edmund Burke


I will show you fear in a handful of dust. T S Eliot


Fear has many eyes and can see things underground. Miguel de Cervantes


Oh, we can populate the dark with horrors, even we who think ourselves informed and sure, believing nothing we cannot measure or weigh. I know beyond all doubt that the dark things crowding in on me either did not exist or were not dangerous to me, and still I was afraid. John Steinbeck


The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela


That's all it takes, one drop of fear to curdle love into hate. James M Cain


A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it. J R R Tolkien


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

 

*My blog about cayenne

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2014 & 2012

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Very beautiful, and very touching, Rosy. Thank you.
Thursday, 30 October 2014 09:24
Rosy Cole
Thank you for stopping by and commenting so kindly, Katia. I live in Hope... ... Read More
Thursday, 30 October 2014 15:32
Anonymous
Deeply moving and beautifully written. Also enlightening, brave, strong, and incredibly generous. Thank you, Rosy.
Thursday, 30 October 2014 17:42
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Still Unshapen

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Destiny waits in the hand of God, shaping the still unshapen...
T S Eliot

Like it or not, authors are becoming accustomed to promoting their own wares. We're encouraged, even compelled by publishing contracts, to hitch a ride on the latest gravy train and exploit every trend vaguely attuned to our theme; the location, what's in the news, what chimes with the destinies of the fast and the famous. Spin-offs abound. Stunts may be marvelled at for their ingenuity. Some of it is amusing, some of it illuminating, much of it spurious. It's almost become superstition, as if we hope a little of the stardust will rub off on our ventures and they will be carried along on the prevailing current, never mind that it is in full spate and there are vast quantities of flotsam.

The Jane Austen connection is one of the most powerful to excite interest in recent years and I have to admit has been used for the last edition of my early second novel, My Mother Bids Me, which is set in the Regency era and is woven in with the events leading up to the Battle of Waterloo.

The odd thing is that Jane Austen wasn't particularly successful in her own lifetime and it's rather sobering to think that we might only be appreciated long after we're dust. Yet it must be a sign of destiny when some spark is caught way after the fact and fanned into a conflagration.

I don't know what to think about the latest discovered drawing purported to be of Jane Austen. The jury's still out, but I do note that the academic most convinced that it is of the author publicised her views to coincide with the launch of a biography and who can blame her if all the evidence she has seen stacks up that way?

I had to smile, too, at the time of the Royal Wedding, when it was claimed that Catherine Middleton's ancestry was linked to Jane Austen. Wasn't marrying an heir to the throne kudos enough?

Now Tom Fowle, who was engaged to Jane's sister, Cassandra, is mentioned in the First Book in the Berkeley Series. This gentleman was educated by the Revd George Austen, the girls' father, and was chaplain to Lord Craven, the 5th Earl of Berkeley's nephew, when he set sail for the West Indies with his patron, contracted yellow fever and tragically died. In the film Becoming Jane, they changed his name to Robert for fear of confusion with the lawyer, Tom Lefroy, whom Jane was attached to at that period. The family was known to the nefarious cleric, Hupsman, who officiated at the fake marriage between Lord Berkeley and Mary Cole. His mother had been governess to Berkeley's sister, Lady Craven, later Margravine of Anspach.

Mary Cole is not in my genealogical tree, nor my late husband's, but I sometimes do feel a frisson that my full name incorporates hers, a name which I didn't own when I discovered her. Also, my first attempt at writing historical fiction, aged 13, did feature a heroine called Kate Barclay (the shades weren't fully on my wavelength in those days!).

I wonder what mileage there'd be in revealing that my maternal line lived a few miles from Steventon Rectory where Jane Austen was born, and Chawton House where the family moved, now the Jane Austen's House Museum?

Whether any of this ranks as destiny is dubious. But shall I tell you something really amazing? For The Wolf and The Lamb, I researched the forebears of the second husband of one of Mary Cole's sisters who came to figure significantly in the forming of the American Constitution and in southern American history of the early 19th century. It transpires that that line coincides exactly with the ancestry of a Green Room (formerly a Red Room) colleague with whom, unbeknownst, I have formed a warm friendship.

What are the chances? The Swiss psychologist, Jung, might call it synchronicity, Douglas Adams would call it 'the fundamental interconnectedness of all things', John Guare might put it down to 'six degrees of separation'...

To me, it's pretty mind-blowing!

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Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Still is my favorite word.
Monday, 20 October 2014 20:15
Rosy Cole
Monday, 20 October 2014 22:44
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Universally Acknowledged

 

Jane Austen's House Museum  

 

An open letter to Jane Austen on her incredible posthumous success...

 

Dear Miss Austen,

Who would have guessed that the microcosm in deepest rural Hampshire you depict so tellingly would have been invaded by a clamouring public right across the globe two centuries later?

You little suspected, when you kept the creaking hinge in the door you scribbled behind, that the product of your guilty secret was destined to be sprung upon a readership from Alton to Alexandria, Towcester to Tasmania. One hardly dares reflect how a spot of goose lard  might have robbed our English literary heritage of one of its gilt-edged treasures.

You taught many of us the meaning of 'valetudinarian' and 'solecism' and 'cotillon' (or cotillion), not to mention 'arch' and  'hauteur' and 'silver loo'. You beguiled us with intrigues and candlelight and misapprehension, destinies forged over the chink of teacups. You delighted us with tomboyish Lizzie Bennet romping around the chicken yard and fields, her hem slimed in cow-dung, her petticoats dew-drenched, whilst her mischievous tongue craved the next dialectic adventure. You gave us Fitzwilliam Darcy who inspired the smouldering ice of Mr Colin Firth and the lovelorn gravity of Mr Matthew McFadyen. You gave us absurd Mr Collins at whom we might justly poke fun, memorably captured by Mr Tom Hollander.

That early book failed to achieve an airing for many years, but I will always think of it as the best and most representative of your talents; your astute observation, exquisite wit and verve. No wonder your quill scratched in haste behind closed doors! You wicked girl!

Yet, for the life of me, I cannot understand the fascination for photos of Bath where modern young women, got up in their period bonnets and frocks, pay tribute to your works. They have none of the atmosphere of an aquatint, or a painting by Mr Reynolds, Mr Romney or Mr Gainsborough. Or a passage from one of your books. I ask myself why, in an age that revels in Rowling and Tolkien, Avatar, space odysseys, vampires and the chilling macabre, the fast and furious, even in Georgette Heyer, you have gone from strength to strength? Perhaps it is partly because Miss Heyer helped to span the breach of the centuries that you've flourished outside the walls of academe, well beyond your era.

Your world was so cloistered and constrained, not to mention mannered, every move orchestrated like a minuet.The quaintness  of it! The mortifying fear of having put a foot wrong! No one cares a button for their reputation nowadays. As long as the keen appetite for publicity is satisfied, one is alive and well. And who would have guessed the Napoleonic Wars were in progress with British servicemen deployed across the atlas? Who would suspect that monarchs had been guillotined and that bloody Revolution was in full spate less than a couple of dozen miles across the Channel? You did admit you found it difficult to imagine a discourse between gentlemen over their port, or in their clubs, so that even a peep through that squint was denied.

Above the culture and propriety, could your appeal be that the K per annum shouts loudest to us? The 'success' of your characters was so often underscored, in the most genteel fashion, by fiscal benefit. We understand the language of income all too well, though we no longer accept that it should only rightfully accrue to the humane, the industrious and the guiltless. Sound principle is rarer than it was then. Human nature may be what it has ever been, but there are reaches it has been unwise to pioneer. Many realise this. We have a phrase for it: Don't go there, we say.

Perhaps we are hooked on the sheer power of your storytelling, in narrative rhythms that echo in the soul, unlike our truncated phrases pandering to a short attention span and the cost of paper and ink. (Deplorable as it may seem, your elegant prose wouldn't pass an editor of recent decades.) And it cannot be for your spelling of 'connexion', or of  'surprize' and 'crape' in the style perpetrated by our transatlantic cousins.

No, the secret must lie within our hankering for a world that is gone, where, come what may, nuclear annihilation was not a possibility and where the decline and fall of civilisation was safely confined to the prolix pages of Mr Edward Gibbon.

You have also indulged us in our well-developed love of gossip. What would you have made of Tatler, OK and Globe, I wonder?

And last, but not least, there's not a shadow of doubt that we yearn for sterling romance, for the days when a fine tension between the sexes was strung out to breaking point in that rapturous sanctum behind the bedroom door. It is true that some sections of Georgian society suffered no curb upon their amorous activities, but doubtful that they would find any appeal in intimate union accomplished beside the office Xerox, or in the neighbourly confines of the stationery cupboard during the first ten minutes of encounter.

Ah, what we have lost...

If only we had not opened all the doors.


Yours wistfully,

 

Rosy Cole

 

Copyright

© © Rosy Cole 2010

Recent Comments
Orna Raz
Dear Rosy, Thank you for the beautiful letter which reminds me how a proper letter can still touch the heart. I saw today in the... Read More
Thursday, 16 October 2014 20:48
Rosy Cole
Thank you so much for this kind response, Orna. I was discussing this very thing with my son, Chris, earlier today (who is recov... Read More
Friday, 17 October 2014 12:29
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Hopeful! I was just reading Frost's A Prayer in Spring, which reminds me of this.
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Wonderful portrait, Ken.
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Priceless! Memories to warm yourself by. A heartwarming share.
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Lovely portrait, Ken.