Tall and straight with vestal eye.
Sunset embodied in life eternal,
Golden charm of folded petal.
Coloured scarlet with flaming torch.
Virgin purity of snowy white,
Or rainbow hues of any in nature.
Short and bushy in green confusion.
Often chosen with ecstatic movement,
Showing love, cherished enchantment,
But creature of death to people fallen.
This we ask of a solitary flower
Which we ourselves can never reach.
Written Summer 1967
It’s snowing out there. And, this being the UK, a national disaster is being declared. We read that 11 inches of snow fell on Moscow last night, and almost 200 people have died in that country because of extreme cold. “Snowpocalypse” the Moscow press are calling it.
Yet the M4 gets closed down with an inch of snow. People pretend they can’t get to work, and show themselves in snowball fights on Facebook. And then they wonder why their management get annoyed.
Some years back, I took a picture of a Rose, ignoring the odds and poking its tongue out at the heaviest frost of the year.
It became one of my most viewed images on flickr.
In 1967 I also wrote a poem about a rose. Looking back, it’s too complex and wordy – but it is a poem of its time. It’s how I felt, and it was of course heavily influenced by the sights, sounds and social upheaval of the “Summer of Love”.
It was the year that the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Who and many other bands tried to out-innovate the Beatles.
Which was an impossible task.
John, Paul, George and Ringo were demonstrating what a “high performance team” is. Extraordinary achievements followed with quickening momentum, and every member of the band contributed in a unique way – the smoke and the acid flowed like water untroubled by small pebbles. They were leaving the others behind.
“High Performance Team: A small group of people so committed to something larger than themselves that they will not be denied”
Katzenbach, J and Smith, D (1993), The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the high-performance organization.
“I am a Walrus”, sang the man in that high-performance team.
“Sitting in an english garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the english rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob goo goo g’joob”.
Was the Rose sitting in the garden, waiting for the sun? Or was the Rose in a team with the rain?
The Rose was both part of the whole and yet totally alone.
The picture doesn’t work without the background, and the Rose could not survive without the help of the sun, piercing the frost. Yet the Rose was standing tall, doing what it does best. It was not just surviving – it prospered.
And it made the garden and its world a happier place.
By being together alone.
“We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others”.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms