Saturday, April 24, 2010

A rose by any name..

My neighbor Janet, an art director herself, introduced me to the work of Karen O'Neil, an Ulster County, New York artist. Even though this time of year we all yearn to be outside with real flowers, I can't resist beautiful renderings. Karen seems to understand the soul of a rose in her paintings...and teacups. The nice thing about Karen's very professional work is that her fees are quite reasonable. Keeping fine art in reach is something I applaud.

Last week a lot of my possessions came into clear view again. How many things we have that we look over or around. One small treasure unearthed was a vintage copy of the poems of Robert Burns. There is no date on my volume, which is very fragile, so I assume quite ancient. The cover seems to have a print of roses applied over the binding. Burns wrote a lot more than the two songs that most of us recall.

What better love song can there be than My luve is like a red, red rose/That's newly sprung in June...? It's a statement of simple perfection. Burns wrote the poem in 1794, two years before his untimely death. Burns is beloved in his native Scotland, and around the world. Could there be a New Year's Eve without a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne? Graduations, around the corner, are also an occasion when we use this hymn to the memory of old times to commemorate the friends we are about to separate from. Written in 1788, it's just one of the many, many songs and poems in my book. It even has a section with the correspondence to and from Robert Burns. Thank you Hurst and Company Publishers, New York. I shall keep the book within reach now.

With a tip of a hat or bonnet to Burns, my mind wanders to The Bard who paid this tribute to the rose--lines written for Juliet:

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

Are there roses strewn in your path to share? A favorite rose poem or painting?


  1. Thank you Nancy! Is there not a more poignant song than Auld Lang Syne? I love roses very much but I am not good at growing them. I don't care for the mixed colors I see on roses in the shop (with the different colored tips) as I like a perfect rose-colored rose. I buy one a few times a month for the bud vase I keep on my dresser.

    My favorite rose book is "Book of Roses" by Alice Caron Lambert. It touches on everything from the red roses in poetry and Greek mythology to perfume and fashion. I love this little volume as much as I love the pink rose staring at me right now from across by bedroom...


  2. Oh, heavens! This is beautiful artwork and a lovely post! My birth month's flower is a rose, I come from the city of roses (Pasadena) and my first boyfriend's last name was Rose. =] I really, really love them and struggle to grow them in Vermont. Oh, and I moved to Vermont to start a tea room (now run by my sister) - Rose Arbour- after having worked for a very influential year at the Rose Tree Cottage. (Do you remember Mary and Edmund Fry? They advertised and were featured in Victoria?!) I have so many good memories and connotations associated with roses. Thanks for taking me there (happy sigh!)

  3. Hello Nancy: There are roses all over this house. If you could take a tour, you'd see them in almost every furniture, bed linens, silk, living, and on teacups. Come to visit my blog whenever you have time and you will definitely come across roses! Thanks for your lovely post. Sincerely, Susan

  4. Right now I am celebrating life with a beautiful vase of soft pink roses. Karen's paintings are so delicate and beautiful. I also cannot wait until they are blooming in the garden. What a treasure God has given us, the rose.

  5. What a lovely post. The paintings are so soothing. You've made me want to go find the most recent book of poetry that Hubby gave me .

  6. The roses in Karen O'Neil's paintings look as if they have just been plucked. As lovely as the posting.

    I love roses. We had a coppery Pat Austin in our old house and two huge Hansa Rugosa roses that showed off most of the summer. I like the Rugosa roses for their perfume and their old fashioned feel. The birds agree as they enjoy the hips.

    What a treasure your copy of Burns must be to you. My bother-in-law just send us via email O sweet spontaneous by e. e. cummings to awaken to our spring day. Life can be so grand, even as we sit here in a dark thunderstorm.

    I can't wait to again smell the roses.

  7. My father, Charlie, was an avid rose grower, as his father, Charles, was a peony grower before him! So, I grew up, using rose petals as doll's dishes and perfume ingredients and just about everything else. Mine was a childhood scented by the classic, old-fashioned, magenta-red climbing rose, Blaze. (At least, I *think* that's it...I've been searching for years and I believe that's what was all over my Maryland backyard!)

    They tumbled over a trellis that arched between our front and backyards; they grew along the fence, and they were prolific.

    Years ago, I drove back to my old house. Sadly, the neighborhood had deteriorated to the point that it literally wasn't safe for me to get out of my car (!), but there were the roses, still tumbling in the yard! They were a ray of hope to me; showing me that beauty prevails.

    Love, Karen Marline

  8. Nancy, thank you as always for a lovely and inspiring post. My daughter and I have every single back issue of our beloved old Victoria magazines and go through all of them every year month by month - all of the April issues are out on our table to be enjoyed during April, etc. Anyway, here are two of my favorite rose books: Diary of a Rose Lover by Henri Delbard with watercolors by Fabrice Moireau (absolutely enchanting in every way, with handwritten text and lovely painted scenes) and the other is an antique children's book called The Rosie Posie Book published in 19ll, with illustrations and verses by Anne Anderson and it follows the little girl of the book and her sister in their activities through the day beginning with waking in the morning until bedtime and each activity includes a reference to the dear garden roses. The first verse entitled "Morning" is "When the cock at morning crows/Cock-a-doodle-do/Little sleepy eyes unclose/ Eyes of brown and blue/ And the wind so softly goes/All the garden through/ Whispering to every rose/ I'm awake; aren't you?" The next verse "Dressing" goes "Nobody would ever guess/ How very long it takes to dress/ Fastening hooks and buttons -- yes/ Twenty minutes, more or less/ But the roses red and pink/ Are not bothered so, I think;/ Their silken frocks, so soft and fine,/ Are easier than yours and mine."
    Thank you for this lovely reminder and inspiration this morning bringing roses into our day.
    Love, Sharyl

  9. Nancy, Karen O'Neil's roses are beautiful and when I tried to "google" her name nothing came up. Is there a source for purchasing her enchanting paintings?

  10. I have enjoyed the beauty of buttery yellow Lady Banks roses this year, some of the first blooms of spring in my yard. Then there was a Tiffany hybrid tea which gave me a perfect pink-with-yellow-center bloom. Then my brillian coral Tropicana hybrid tea bloomed, and next Gypsy, a vivid red with wavy petals just like that of a gypsy's twirling skirt. Then my Knockout roses bloomed and just outdid themselves. It has been a rose-filled spring for me. I have loved roses for as long as I can remember. My grandmother grew them, and I remember accompanying my mother to a rose nursery so that she could start her own rose garden. Some years later I remember the rose logo on the early Victorias; it was a sign of true loveliness and the perfect symbol for the queen of magazines.