ROMANTIC LADY OF SHALOTT . . . A DAVID AUSTIN ROSE

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I have a Camelot garden.  In it grows a  gorgeous rose of such fragrance and beauty the  very stars  look down in envy.    Its beckoning orange-red buds open to form  a magnificent chalice-shaped bloom.  A rose that perhaps long ago would have graced King Arthur’s table.  My Lady of  Shalott rose, an important rose because it was a Mother’s Day Gift and the rose that adorned a family wedding.

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There she weaves by night and day a magic web with colours gay.”  Each perfect rose petal blushes salmon pink  then quietly reveals a secret  that unfolds to golden yellow.    This Lady of Shalott rose has an old-fashioned  fragrance that conjurers up  thoughts of  exotic tea  spiced with cloves and apples.

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The Lady of Shalott is a fairy tale  rose.  Early morning I visit my Camelot garden and gather a  bouquet of roses.   And every morning  the rose bush is covered once again with more sweet roses.  If your soul yearns for romance  whisper the words LADY OF SHALOTT ROSES by David Austin  and the glorious days of Camelot will enter your garden.

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The very, very best part of this unique rose is –  it is simple-to-grow.    It is highly resistant to disease and blooms with unusual continuity.  It is low maintenance  and will bloom from early spring until frost. It’s highly recommended for rose beds and border.  It would be spectacular in a flower bed with deep blue flowers.  It can be trained against a wall or trellis  or  planted in large pots and containers.  It loves full sun or a little shade.  If you are an inexperienced  gardener you will adore this  Lady of Shalott David Austin rose.

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The Lady of Shalott was a popular l9th century  ballad inspired by Arthurian legend.  It was written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.    Reading this poem one discovers the  words and phrases that inspired the naming of this old-fashioned rose .

THE LADY OF SHALLOT  …  Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro’ the field the road runs by
To many-tower’d Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro’ the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil’d
Slide the heavy barges trail’d
By slow horses; and unhail’d
The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower’d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers “‘Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.”

Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.

And moving thro’ a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes thro’ the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often thro’ the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.

Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro’ the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel’d
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter’d free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell’d shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn’d like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro’ the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.

Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river’s dim expanse –
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right –
The leaves upon her falling light –
Thro’ the noises of the night
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song.
The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken’d wholly,
Turn’d to tower’d Camelot.
For ere she reach’d upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died
The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame.
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace.
The Lady of Shalott.”

 

 
 

 

 

 

LUNCH WITH MICHAEL ONDAATJE

 

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Last week I had lunch with Michael Ondaatje.

Lunch in a warm, comfortable  pub in Toronto’s  Cabbagetown.  House On Parliament is the kind of place where old friends linger and talk into the quiet after-noon.  Across from our table tucked into a corner sat two elegant white-haired gentlemen.  One looked very familiar.    “That’s Michael Ondaatje”, said my dining companion.   My heart skipped a beat.  Sitting just a few feet away from me was a writer who had written books so extraordinary, so evocative their imagery has become part of me.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them.  Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” -Michael Ondaatje, THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

Set in Tuscany THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the tale of a passionate love affair during the brutal conflict of the Second World War.  It was awarded The Booker Prize.   The movie received nine Academy Awards.

Lankan-born Canadian Michael Ondaatje is a poet, novelist, filmmaker, editor.  He is five times winner of the Governor General’s Award, The Giller Prize, The Booker Prize, the Prix Médicis étranger.  He is an office of the Order of Canada, making him one of Canada’s most celebrated living author.

“He came to this country like a torch on fire and swallowed air as he walked forward and he gave out light.” -Michael Ondaatje, IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

In l989 I was riding the ferry to Salt Spring Island.  Desperate for something to read I searched the book store shelves for a novel to fill the hours of travel.  IN THE SKIN OF A LION – the title intrigued me.   A love story and a mystery set in the turbulent 20’s and 30’s in Toronto.  I began to read and  left behind the boat passengers, the flapping sea birds.  I was IN THE SKIN OF A LION.

I passed by his table as we left the pub.  I stopped and quietly said “Thank You”.  He smiled and replied “Your welcome”.

On my bookshelves a few of the novels  by Michael Ondaatje – The Cat’s table,  In the Skin of a Lion,  Anil’s Ghost,  Divisadero,  Running in the Family,  The Collected works of Billy the Kid,  Coming Through the Slaughter.  And …

“If I were a cinnamon peeler

I would ride your bed

and leave the yellow bark dust

on your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek.

You could never walk through the market

without the profession of my fingers

floating over you.  The blind

would stumble certain of whom

they approached

though you may bathe

under rain gutters, monsoons.”

– Michael Ondaatje THE CINNAMON PEELER

 

THE MAGIC TOY CUPBOARD

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Afterwards –  in the times to come she remembered

the toy cupboard.

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The fierce dragon guarding the castle.

The swashbuckling  wizard carrying a watch to make wishes come true.

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The Hussar with the fierce and splendid mustache

riding to the castle

to rescue  the princess.

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It was always in vain.

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Afterwards in the times to come  she remembered her sailor doll.

Worn with love.

He sailed away in a beautiful pea green boat.

But he always came back.

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The china mouse wore lace and a pink velvet jacket.

He fell in love with the china doll.

She only had eyes for the dashing firemen.

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Afterwards, afterwards in the times she remembered.

The fire engine raced to rescue the tumbled soldier.

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Her Okasan whispered  haiku and

flung words into the sky.

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Afterwards, afterwards  in the times to come

she remembered Hans.

Hans who Christmas after Christmas

kept the memories together.

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Afterwards, afterwards in the years to come

she collected the toys.

Put them in the toy cupboard.

But each Christmas she shared her memories of joy

with the young and the young at heart.

THRIFT SHOP TREASURE HUNTING

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It’s rather like going down the rabbit hole – this Thrift Shop treasure hunting.  One simply jumps in and the fun begins.

Sharp eyes are required to ferret out the gold from the dross.

To find the  brand-new pink linen Max Mara jacket consorting with   black polyester jacket from Le Chateau.   It’s not my size but it would look fab on my dear-to-my-heart friend Amy.   How can I go wrong at four dollars.

When you’re in the rabbit hole it is a good idea to always look up.

Way way up on the top shelves.

To find the second treasure of the day.  Three gorgeous Panama straw hats dreaming  together and ignoring the gray clouds and rain.    Magenta, red, and black hats and just one dollar each.

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Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador from the pleated leaves of the toquilla straw plant.    Originally they were shipped first to the Isthmus of Panama and from there to the rest of the world.    Now you know why they call them Panama hats.       Glorified since the 19th century the Panama hat is considered the prince of straw hats,   or in this case the princess.

 

My beauties simply called out to be dolled up.  Spiffed up and tricked out to become the soigné of all Panamas.   I riffle my trunk  filled with ribbons and trims.  A red Panama will be crowned with an enormous red rose and trimmed with a little grograin ribbon.   A hat to wear on the beach at Cap Ferrat.

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A black Panama speaks of Paris  and late night supper.    I trimmed it simply with Chanel inspired ribbon.   A hat for Deuville should be able to go to the beach or to  the races.

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When a hat is pink it should speak of romance.  Of  lingering looks across a crowded room.  Of dancing on the beach  under the  stars .  Gray silk flowers the colour of moon light caress this hat of love.

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All you have to do is follow me down the rabbit hole.   Have tea with the Mad Hatter  and dance in the moonlight.  All it takes is a Panama Hat.

THE PARIS WIFE

 

“It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important.” -Gertrude Stein

 

 

 

“There is no one thing that’s true.  It’s all true.” -Ernest Hemingway

 

I’ve been away again.

My shoes are covered with silvery dust.

My head filled with wailing jazz music.

I brush aside a curtain of cigarette smoke.

The cafe is awash with artists and alcohol.

It is the l920’s and I am in Paris.

Reluctantly I turn the last page in my book.

 

 

I finish the final chapter in Paula McLain’s  book The Paris Wife.  A book so intensely personal I feel like a voyeur.

 

After a whirlwind courtship and wedding Hadley Richardson and  Ernest Hemingway set sail for Paris.    This is the Paris of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

 

 

It’s fiction so intimate one feels that you must cast your eyes aside.   We shouldn’t continue reading.   We are intruding on private lives of real people.  It is  sad to read that Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.   She was his first wife.  His Paris Wife.

 

Why am I not surprised that this week  my thoughts have been in Paris.

There’s six degrees of separation in this story of Hemingway.    Ten years ago when our son was married a good friend photographed the wedding.  His name was Patrick Hemingway.  He is Ernest Hemingway’s grandson.  (www.patrickhemingway.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROMANTIC READS

So many books on my list of favorites .  To simplify  I am putting my books into categories.  This is the first one.  They will  be a lot more to come.  Keep reading.

This is a fairly new release.  I  couldn’t stop reading it.  There’s intrigue but there is no question this is a book about a great romance.  VENETIA KELLY’S TRAVELING SHOW  by Frank Delaney

I would like to introduce you to Marlene de Blast (if you haven’t already met this author).  Her books are prose that read like poetry.  There’s recipes (she’s a chef) but there is great romance and it is non fiction.  Read in the proper sequence.

A THOUSAND DAYS IN VENICE

A THOUSAND DAYS IN TUSCANY

THAT SUMMER IN SICILY

THE LADY IN THE PALAZZO; AN UMBRIAN LOVE STORY

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”   Read the book and rent the movie!    OUT OF AFRICA by Karen Blix

A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E.M. Forester(A Merchant Ivory movie  rent it)

A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forester (A Merchant Ivory movie rent it)

AGE OF INNOCENCE by Edith Warton

HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Warton

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro

POSSESSION by A.S. Byatt

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur S. Golden

GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by Tracy Chevalier

THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje  Read the book by this fine Canadian writer.  Rent the movie.

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell (my first adult book read in l948)  Rent the movie.

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS by Ernest Hemingway  Rent the movie.

(the list will grow.  Send me the names of your favorite romantic books)