Romeo! Romeo! The Quest for Love & Reflections on The Rose.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

In case you’ve just joined me, I am participating in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.  where we write about a different letter of the alphabet every day, except Sunday.Today, we’re up to the letter R and starting approach the downward run. Although I don’t really have a set theme as such, I’m loosely writing about my favourite things.So for R, I will be taking you on a journey through the rose poems, which I found on this roller coaster journey of love, rejection, joy and angst.

Like most of us,  my very first rose poem was chanted in childhood and written in autograph books:

Roses are red,

violets are blue

sugar is sweet

and so are you!

The very nature of the rose perfectly reflects love’s passion and its heartache…its Jekyll and Hyde. A budding red rose symbolises new love with it’s incredible passionate intensity and it’s elegant, fragrant petals. Yet, just as love isn’t pure pleasure, neither is the rose. Every rose has it’s painfully sharp thorns…representing love’s heartache.

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.”

― Kahlil Gibran

Roses, violin serenades...such is love!

Roses, violin serenades…such is love! Photo: Rowena.

Before I met my husband, I was on a determined mission to find Mr Right. This intense and challenging roller coaster ride was reflected in the greatest symbol of love…the rose. Whether I was basking in love’s giddy heights or more than likely,  sinking into its unending depths, there was a rose poem for every occasion. In the true spirit of a poetry-writing, angst-ridden youth in the days before you could just  summon Google, I transcribed these poems into an exercise book and absorbed them over and over again through osmosis. There is nothing like an angst-ridden poem to provide catharsis for the soul.

The Rose,

The Rose, “Little Prince”, St Exupery.

When love was going well, there was Robbie Burns:

My Love is Like A Red, Red Rose

Robert Burns

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Salvidor Dali,

Salvidor Dali, “Meditative Rose”, 1958.

In more recent times, I have discovered Rumi:

With the Beloved’s water of life, no illness remains
In the Beloved’s rose garden of union, no thorn remains.
They say there is a window from one heart to another
How can there be a window where no wall remains?

Rumi From Thief of Sleep translated by Shahram Shiva

The Little Prince watering his rose.

The Little Prince watering his rose.“The thorns– what use are they?”

Like anyone who has experienced love’s sting, St Exupery’s Little Prince also wondered why roses have thorns:

“The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:

“The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!”

Antoine de St Exupery: The Little Prince.

When love went wrong, I turned to William Blake’s scathing attack in The Sick Rose and John Keats Ode to Melancholy:

The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

By William Blake

POrtrait of poet John Keat by Severn, 1819.

Portrait of poet John Keat by Severn, 1819

Ode on Melancholy (an excerpt)

John Keats

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
       Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
       And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
       Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
               Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
       Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
               And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
While the red rose first comes to mind, then there is the yellow rose, symbolising jealousy.
I photographed this gorgeous yellow rose, the symbol for jealousy, at the home of artist Hans Heysen, The Cedars, Hahndorf, South Australia. Both Hans and his daughter Nora created incredible rose portraits.

I photographed this gorgeous yellow rose, the symbol for jealousy, at the home of artist Hans Heysen, The Cedars, Hahndorf, South Australia. Both Hans and his daughter Nora created incredible rose portraits.Photo: Rowena

My Pretty Rose Tree

William Blake

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

When I wanted to appreciate the humour is love, there was Dorothy Parker’s: One Perfect Rose:

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Dorothy Parker

Then, alas, there is the death of the rose, as expressed by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

A Dead Rose

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

O Rose! who dares to name thee?
No longer roseate now, nor soft, nor sweet;
But pale, and hard, and dry, as stubble-wheat,—
Kept seven years in a drawer—thy titles shame thee.

The breeze that used to blow thee
Between the hedgerow thorns, and take away
An odour up the lane to last all day,—
If breathing now,—unsweetened would forego thee.

The sun that used to smite thee,
And mix his glory in thy gorgeous urn,
Till beam appeared to bloom, and flower to burn,—
If shining now,—with not a hue would light thee.

The dew that used to wet thee,
And, white first, grow incarnadined, because
It lay upon thee where the crimson was,—
If dropping now,—would darken where it met thee.

The fly that lit upon thee,
To stretch the tendrils of its tiny feet,
Along thy leaf’s pure edges, after heat,—
If lighting now,—would coldly overrun thee.

The bee that once did suck thee,
And build thy perfumed ambers up his hive,
And swoon in thee for joy, till scarce alive,—
If passing now,—would blindly overlook thee.

The heart doth recognise thee,
Alone, alone! The heart doth smell thee sweet,
Doth view thee fair, doth judge thee most complete,—
Though seeing now those changes that disguise thee.

Yes, and the heart doth owe thee
More love, dead rose! than to such roses bold
As Julia wears at dances, smiling cold!—
Lie still upon this heart—which breaks below thee!

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared. You see you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love it’s will to reach the sun. Well, we are the rose – this is the concrete – and these are my damaged petals.”

-Tupac Shakur

Unforgettable: Bette Midler: The Rose.

Unforgettable: Bette Midler: The Rose.

However, as much as I love my poetry, who can go passed one of the most loved songs of our time: The Rose:. Once I’d finally found my Romeo, a friend of ours gave a beautiful rendition at our wedding. Here’s the Bette Midler & Ms Judd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5q0KmjU0Qk

Do you know any good rose poems to contribute?

How are you going with the Blogging A-Z April challenge? I’ve been trying to read as many other blogs as I can but it’s all getting challenging. I planning to do some catch up after the challenge is over and the writing load has hopefully cut back.

xx Rowena

6 thoughts on “Romeo! Romeo! The Quest for Love & Reflections on The Rose.

  1. merrildsmith

    I love this post, Rowena! Roses, poetry, and the search for love–great stuff. We were actually discussing poetry and odes in particular at dinner last night. My daughter (she’s living with us temporarily during the week because of her new teaching job) mentioned that Anne Frank wrote an ode to her pen, and she’s going to have her students write odes.

    Yellow roses are my favorites. I refuse to believe they symbolize jealousy. They’re bright and happy. 🙂

    Have you ever heard “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” sung? It’s very pretty. I also like the song, The Rose.

  2. byrdwords

    You had me there, when you mentioned Keats and I remembered seeing his small apartment (which is now a museum dedicated to him) next to the Spanish steps in Rome. Tiny place, but filled with artifacts and writings in his own hand. Well done, kiddo, well done.

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Bob. It feels very much like an impossible dream now but I actually visited his house in London back in 1992. I was an absolutely devotee back then and was in absolute awe.

  4. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Merril. These are among my favourite poems but I also love Kahlil Gibran, Rilke, Rumi and Tagore. The priest quoted Tagore at my grandmother’s funeral and that sent me on a fabulous poetry fest discovering all those fabulous poets. Prior to that, I’d mainly only read English, Australian and American poets. Felt quite deprived but then I found out that my aunt had quoted Gibran in the card she gave my mother when I was born. It toon over 40 years for me to find my way back!!
    I have never heard My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” sung. Will have to Google that. I will look up that Anne Frank Ode to her pen too. Might actually post that if I find it.
    It’s sounds great to have your daughter home for a bit and some stimulating conversations. It will no doubt be a very precious time for you all xx Rowena

  5. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much. Wendy and for the visit. I have visited some blogs but think I’ll be catching up on a few after the challenge is finished. xx Rowena

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