Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE YELLOW ROSE OF THOMASTOWN

This yellow rose came with the house, which we bought 32 years ago, and I don't believe it has ever looked as good as this, at this time of year. The magnigicent David Austin yellow roses of today, originate from a non-perfumed yellow rose, which was discovered growing wild in Persia during the 19th Century, which were then imported, hybridized and cross-cultivated by rose enthusiasts of the west. Once upon a time, the yellow rose was associated with 'dying love'...in more modern times, however, they are usually recognized as a symbol of 'sincere friendship'. The red rose is normally associated with 'love', orange...'passion and ardour', pink...'admiration', white...'purity' etc...etc.
This brings to me to the song, which was adopted as the Texan anthem, 'The Yellow Rose of Texas, where the word 'darky' was replaced by 'soldier' in later, more politically correct times, and the word 'yellow' is thought to have referred to a light-skinned African-American with significant Caucasian ancestry. Legend has it that Mary West ( the 'yellow rose') helped Texas to win their independence from Mexico on the plains of San Jacinto, by keeping Mexican General Santa Anna busy long enough(if you know what I mean) to allow the Texans under the command of Colonel James Morgan to catch the General, quite literally with his pants down.
My yellow rose, perhaps quite poignantly, happens to be the last rose still in bloom in my garden. 'The Last Rose of Summer', is one of my favourite of Moores' melodies, and, in particular the versions recorded by the late Count John McCormack and the late Bernadette Greevy.
The word 'Last' quite often wafts a breath of sadness. However, in another light being the 'last' can grab attention and imagination and an appreciation of singularly enduring strength and survival. At the height of summer, when trees are lush, we see an abundance of green or burgundy (in the case of copper beech and maples). In Autumn, I'm often taken by the two or three leaves that hang on for dear life, like earrings on pierced ears...I inspect them closely, because they are the 'last'...I notice them. I am reminded of one of my favourite films, 'Kes'. It's a moving, hauntingly sad movie made in the 70's (I think!) about a young, dirty, mal-nourished boy who is bullied by his family, his teachers and his school pals. He has absolutely nothing going for him! One day he happens upon a young kestrel, which he takes under his wing, nutures, feeds and trains it to fly and come back to him etc. He gets a paper job to buy meat for his falcon. One of his teachers( the only one who cares) comes to watch the young boy work his magic with his new-found friend in the fields near his home, and invites the boy to relate his story to his fellow classmates, who does so with passion and tenderness. I wont give too much away, but it is a beautiful film. Anyway the reason why the last leaves remind of this film...there is an extremely funny scene in the film where the boy is put in goals... and by the way, he is tiny and hates soccer. He becomes bored out of his tree and starts to swing from the cross bar like a monkey, only to miss the goal that he should have saved. The PE teacher, who takes himself and sport far too seriously has war with him over it. Trust me...it is funny...really! Being 'last' also allows for improvement. Saving the 'last waltz' for someone is special. Then there are those who always like to have the 'last word'. You could write a thesis on it!
I love Christmas...making the Christmas cake and puddings, chutney etc. Tried a chocolate log tonight... for me...I'm a chocoholic... but sadly burned it. Well it wouldn't be Christmas, if I didn't burn something...like Alfred the Great! Have brought half the garden inside (slight exaggeration of course!) Am carol-singng tomorrow with my youngsters in aid of the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co. Cork and heading to Dublin tomorrow evening to hear well-known Irish actress/director Fiona Shaw deliver a talk entitled, 'The Elephant and The Nightingale - The Survival of Language in the Theatre. My Christmas treat to myself!
Alex, a dear friend of mine included a poem from Tristan and Isolde in his blog recently and while I had the house to myself a couple of nights ago, decorating the Christmas tree, I decided I would play the CD of Wagner's opera at full blast. What glorious music...no-one quite captures the essence, the anger, the calm after the storm, the way Wagner does. It's not the singing I find compelling for the most part, its in the musical interludes that I am swept away. Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, and friend of Wagner in his early days says of this work, 'Even now I am still in search of a work which exercises such a dangerous fascination, such a spine-tingling and blissful infinity as Tristan - I have sought in vain, in every art.'
I love this cold, crisp, weather, but I sincerely hope that it doesn't interfere too much with the travel plans of those coming home for Christmas to be with their loved ones. I met my old friend E.J. last week. I love his individualism, his integrity and his artistry. We hadn't seen each other for quite some time. We didn't speak...he just smiled the brightest, biggest smile and lit up my world. Thank you E.J. ...we just know. If you're strapped for cash or ideas for last minute pressies...just SMILE! They say that 'a hug is worth a thousand words'. I think 'a smile is worth a thousand hugs'.
And 'lastly'...Love to all my inspirational friends. Please take care on the roads and keep yourselves safe! Best wishes for a merry little Christmas from 'Back of the Moon'.

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