Love & Roses

In February and March 2017, the Back Door Bakery and Cafe in Sunland CA showed my photography exhibition entitled The Rose of Roses and consisting of 34 rose photos that explored the geometry of leaves and petals in minute details. There were several events associated with this exhibition: Valentine's Day Evening of Poetry and Roses, celebrating the marriage of Mariko Kitakubo with Roger Abe, and engagement anniversary of Kathabela and Rick Wilson; a concert on February 25, Shandy & Eva Among the Roses, and Roses at the Oscars on February 26. There were further events in March 2017, so the exhibition was well attended.


My love is made of gratitude
and sorrow in equal measure,
it thrives in silence

Out of thankfulness
I build a shield,
smile by smile, day by day

I am sure you did not know
that I made you
my guardian angel
to watch my grief diminish
replaced by joie de vivre,
born in your presence

Do the halo and the wings
fit you?  They’d better –
you are going to wear them
tor a very long time –
till death

does us part, no less

(c) 2011 by Maja Trochimczyk, from Rose Always: A Love Story

In the meantime, you can see some photos and read the poems on love and roses from a number of California poets. 

With Margaret Saine, poet: 

On Friday the Thirteenth (Feb 13, 2015), I visited Tia Chucha Cultural Center in Sylmar and read one poem from "Rose Always" - my book of "court love poems" that took several years in the making and would keep evolving, every day. As a first time visitor I got a gift of a chocolate heart, also with roses, so everything matched.  The book, started in 2008 was done in 2011 but the material keeps growing, there's more and more love poems to write...

Rose Always - A Court Love Story (2011 version) was all in dew-drop rose-red, and filled with love poetry of delight, desire, fulfillment, and heartbreak. Inspired by the Songs of Songs and centuries of love poems, from Sappho to Milosz, this novella in verse consisted of lyrical poems, illustrated with portraits of roses. A range of literary allusions enriches this unlikely love story, from Sappho, to Rilke, to Goethe, Kierkegaard, and Dickinson. After creating the book in 2008, revising it in 2011, and again in 2017, I decided that I was not satisfied with the final, or any of the previous versions of this love story, and the book was withdrawn from circulation.  It was a fascinating journey to write and rewrite it, but this journey has come to its end - so its journal should be closed, as well. 

Amor 6 

 the more I love
 the more dangerous 
life becomes 
in its graphic beauty 

carved with a dagger 
stolen from time 

 the blade cuts 
old wounds open 

 it slides on the skin 
of the moment 

 pierced by knowing

 © 2006 by Maja Trochimczyk, published in Miriam's Iris, 2008.

All lovers should be happy, even if their love is gone, dead, or lost in the mist of time. It is the supreme gift of having been able to feel what generations of poets have felt, from the divine Sappho until today... Many entries on this blog were dedicated to the topics of Valentine's Day and the various types of love, and its poetic expressions. .. The heart has its own logic, its own math.... and a brain, too - as positive emotions create coherent rhythm and help us be healthy and happy... You can find a heart to love just about everywhere, and writing about love is not only NOT a vice, it is, indeed, a virtue... And that person you love is, well, entirely "Adorable"

What about the lovers' betrayal? I thought about that too:

Here she is, Madame Butterfly, so in love with Mr. Pinkerton, who left her with a baby, and returned with his American wife to claim his son and leave his crying mistress all alone. Susan Dobay's digital integration artwork is inspiring and touching.  Let's see...

Madame Butterfly, digital integration image by Susan Dobay, 2014.

Enough of that vain sorrow and gratuitous self-pity.  Here's a list of links about happier varieties of love:, with "Amor 6," "Desert Rose," "Rosa Incognita," "Ellenai 6" - with a link to the interview with Susan Dobay.

At the opening of my exhibit of photography and poetry at the Scenic Drive Gallery in September 2013, I read  a selection of poems that were either unpublished or appeared in Miriam's Iris  (the ones with numbers in titles), or Rose Always. ...
with "A Portrait in Bracket" and "A Lesson for My Daughter"

Some people… wrap themselves in a thick blanket of irony of sarcasm and greet every expression of sentiment or affection with a sneer. We’ve all seen our share of these tough guys and gals, who curse or ridicule every expression of what really matters. “How banal, how boring!” they say, when they hear a sweet love poem, like the one below (first published in the Emerging Urban Poets 2010 Calendar). I remember, I was like that, too, deeply wounded and hiding my pain under a mask of worldly indifference. ...

Rose Shadow by Maja Trochimczyk, with "The Smile of a Rose," "Rosier d'Amour," "The Rose Garland," and poems by Sappho and Robert Burns.

The association of roses with love goes back to the times of Sappho, an ancient Greek poet (or, rather as 19th century writers would say, poetess), whose fragments of love poems, have inspired countless poets with their vehement passion and colorful metaphors since her death more than two and a half thousand years ago. In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s translation, Sappho’s rose is “the eye of the flowers… the grace of the earth” and “the lightning of beauty that strikes through the bowers / On pale lovers that sit in the glow unaware.” Sappho’s rose “breathes of love” and its petals “laugh with the wind…”, with "Rose Garland" and "Ready to Wear"

An insightful poet and photographer, George Jisho Robertson, who lives in London, England, posted a sweet set of rose photographs on Facebook, with many of the flowers captured chiaroscuro,their pastel colors contrasting with rich, verdant leaves of the rosebushes. George likes to blur parts of pictures and some of the artistically transformed photos are striking, appearing more transient and poetic than the real blossoms. (Other photos, changed into black and white, remind me of the portraits of the deceased on their tombstones, found in old cemeteries in Europe - no, I do not like those monuments of the dead). The photo included here, of a "Chicago Peace" rose covered with raindrops (or, rather, as the case may be, drops of water from the sprinklers), looks like candied confection, a marzipan...., with "Love Defined," "A Chocolate Kiss," "Lauda," "A Secret," "Rose Window," and "Always"

It is a topic of so many country songs, so many romantic sonnets, so many tales and novels. It gave rise to new genres of literature (romance, troubadour poetry) and in other arts (rom com, or romantic comedy in film; the comedy as a classic theatrical genre). After centuries of efforts to describe it, we still do not know what it is. The taxonomies and definitions that I cited in the previous essay are just one way of approaching this elusive topic. For the Valentine's Day of 2006, I wrote the following short poem, dedicated to my children. ...

And here are my essays on love and roses on Chopin with Cherries Blog that has featured stories of Chopin's love letters, his interests in roses, violets, his failed love affairs and sublime music. Illustrations include Redoute's engravings of roses., with "Rose Always - No. 58" and "A Summer Rose Dream"

Did Chopin like roses?  I discussed this topic last year, on the occasion of Valentine's Day. A part of that essay is copied below. The answer is: "yes."  But one of his favorite scents was that of the violets. On 10 April 1847, Chopin wrote to George Sand in Nohant, their summer home where he had spent the happiest moments of his adult life:  "Here, everything is as it was at the time when you were leaving; there are no violets, no daffodils, no narcissus in the little garden.  Your flowers were taken away, the curtain were removed, that's all. I wish you happiness and good humor, please take care of yourself, please write a word about everything, if you can.", with Sappho's "A Song of a Rose," "Rose Garland," and "A Summer Rose Dream" .... and lots of Redoute Roses. 

The roses that Sappho and Browning wrote about blossomed once a year and had much smaller, though often much more fragrant flowers than the roses we know today. Our long-stemmed hybrid tea roses are the offspring of repeatedly blooming china roses, hybridized by artificial pollination and often grafted onto sturdy rootstock of the common dog rose that is resistant to cold and disease. We pay for the year-round abundance of flowers with their fragrance… Here’s a lovely simple variety of Rosa Gallica, called by the French Rosier d’Amour and the Germans rose d’Autriche, or the Austrian rose. Its description in a book of rose images by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (Les Roses, 1817-1824) penned by Claude-Antoine Thory is poetic in its own right, especially for readers who do not know botanical terminolog...., with poems about Chopin and George Sand by Willitts, Hoffman, and Hiscox.

he association of Chopin's music with romance and love stories of all sorts is so profound that it is hard to imagine how mundane and trivial many of his own letters really were. He poured his heart in his music, and did not have to do it on the page. Instead, his letters are dedicated to ordinary matters, an equivalent of email or text messages of our times. In April I posted here an article about Chopin's letters. Excerpts are included below, to celebrate Valentine's day with Chopin. Newly arrived in Paris, Chopin was then at a threshold of an international career. He just signed agreements with French (Schlesinger), German and English publishers; was preparing his first major solo concert in Paris; and started giving lessons to music-loving aristocrats. 

In Poland, he had been infatuated with a lovely singer, Konstancja Gladkowska. He was hoping to marry a daughter of a minor Polish noble, who shared his affections, but was rebutted in this plan by her parents. A sickly musician was not much of a prospect of a husband. Enter the love of Chopin's life, Baroness Aurora Dudevant, or George Sand, of a scandalous life-style, men's clothing, and interminable novels. Nonetheless, the elan vital of his French novelist lover has revitalized Chopin. During the years with George he was extremely prolific. She adopted him into her household and took care of him like a mother. Her reward? He filled her home with divinely inspired music. Two centuries later we can enjoy it, too. 


For the lovers of love's wisdom in poetry, my Miriam's Iris, or Angels in a Garden, describes a life trajectory from homesickness, through romance, grief, and reconciliation with the most beautiful of loves, found only with the Angel called Sophia, the Divine Wisdom. This book, too, found its admirers among reviewers.  Paperback Edition: ISBN 978-0-578-00166-1EBook (PDF) from ISBN 978-0-9819693-2-9.

"Rarely does one find a book of poetry which holds together as well as Miriam's Iris. Although presented as a collection of individual poems, it reads like it was composed as a whole, as a single poem of multiple parts. . .Miriam's Iris is a strong demonstration of how poetry can evoke emotion without getting bogged down in the details of one's affairs. Along the way it provides some wisdom about finding one's place, accepting what one is given." (G. Murray Thomas in, Feburary 2010)

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