This is one of my favourite rose pictures. I find it extra romantic, though it’s hard to say why. The clustering roses themselves, or the small detail of them being tied to their support? Perhaps; we don’t need poets to tell us that love binds where it frees. The leafy, bower-like setting helps and the pensive, shadowy statue in the background is casting her influence too. She seems to be waiting for someone rather than just admiring the view.
The last few days I’ve been re-reading Twelfth Night in token of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, so in my imagination the statue is channeling not Olivia, but the more sympathetic, perceptive, androgynous Viola: a girl disguised as a man, mourning her twin brother, who finds herself falling in love with the man who sends her off to woo another woman on his behalf.
It’s a fancy on love and folly that still seems fresh, despite all the social changes in the last 400 years. If only every generation had its own Shakespeare – how much kinder and more enlightened would we be?
I was lucky to see the play many years ago in a hilarious performance at Manchester’s Exchange Theatre. Until then, though I understood that Shakespeare wrote comedies, I’d not been moved to laugh out loud, over and over, at the absurdity of Sir Toby and Sir Andrew in their cups, or to feel that uncomfortable mix of amusement, scorn and pity for the tortured Malvolio who gets his comeuppance and more.
In my present leafy surroundings, with this season’s roses already in full bloom outside, this was the play that demanded to be read – and the picture I most wanted to share.
I hope you’ve been enjoying a leisurely Sunday too.