The Greek Rose of Florence



Ken Babbs and Nancy Hamren at dedication of Kesey mural in Springfield, an amazing literary event and milestone.

“I am afraid of the man who doesn’t love beauty.”

On Monday, July 11, 2016, I sat down at a table with Niel Laudati and let him know I knew, the bookcase in the Ken Kesey mural, belonged to Ken Babbs.

“Babbs did play a large part in the mural!” Niel replied, knowing I an a reporter – who digs deep.

I then offered to help Niel tie up lose ends, upright the ship, and set sail for a new course. In 1996 Ken took the Pranksters and Further to England – in search of Merlin. When I heard about this, I sent my friend Nancy a letter bidding her to tell Ken not to go. I had just joined a Knight Templar-Priory de Sion chat group, and knew the Brits took their culture very seriously. Ken comes off like gangbusters, like the Grand Know It All. I knew he was going to get creamed. I knew the timing was not right. It did not augur well. What is that in Ken’s hand as he gazes upon Stonehenge?  Is it a radio – and not a cellphone>

It got right when Belle “beautiful” came across Kesey Square to see what I was up to. The theme of the Rhody Fest when Ken was the Marshal, was “Sometimes a great notion.” This describes just about everything Joaquin Miller did. Miller went to Columbia College before the UofO was built, and grew up in Coburg. He and Ken are like twins. England has come to Springfield that was within the British Empire. Japan, can follow! Here is a movie made about Joaquin’s disciple, Leonie, who came to live with ‘The Poet of the Sierras’ so he could blend the East with the West. We need a Springfield Celebration Parade that will attract citizens of Japan. We can found a Poet’s Colony.

Here is what I discovered yesterday that save the fleet – and America’s Merry Ol England! Joaquin Miller had been to England, and believed he brought back a important part of that Island’s Culture. He had dinner with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which I have seen spelled Rosemond. Many of the Pre-Raphaelites were at the table. Dante had done a painting of Fair Rosamond Clifford who was placed in a bower, kept at the core of a labyrinth. Jaoquin uses the word “bower” and “flower”in this article about the first Rhododendron Festival. His brother, George, platted the city of Florence – and Fairmount! Fair Florence in her Bower atop a hill in Fairmount. Joaquin was a Marshal of the festival, that employs royal names and terms. Had Joaquin seen the Royal Fleet on the Thames?  His daughter, Juanita, put on a play in the Hights, where citizens of the city I was born in, dressed like the personages of England.

Here are the e-mails I sent Niel last week;

“My friend Ben Toney titled me “The Sage of Oregon” this morning. We have Fair Rosamond as a common ancestor. Ben was a head of Radio London, that due to censorship, broadcast from a ship off the coast. He knew all the great music stars in Britain and the US. I showed him this video of Chuck Kesey telling me how proud Springfield was to get the Grateful Dead tossed out of a downtown bar – and there you were! I might have a video of my interview with you. Ben is looking for a home for his history – too. ‘Hands across the water”

Radio London – Ben Toney Memoirs P1

I composed this with Ben Toney, and the Sinclair family in mind. My friend, Robert Sinclair, has come under attack for being the messenger of a great debauchery and scandal. Perhaps you heard, the Wicked Witch of the North has launched her flying monkeys at me again? But, do not despair. At the end of the Monkey Ark in the Sky – is a smashing good movie! I just put Springfield on the map in regards to famous genealogies – that Dan Brown glommed onto. Just follow the flying monkeys!

John Presco

We must THINK BIG like our found fathers. We must get down to the waters edge and celebrate. Why not a flotilla in the Mill Race?


Dinner at Rossetti’s
by Joaquin Miller
There is no thing that hath not worth;
There is no evil anywhere;
There is no ill on all this earth,
If man seeks not to see it there.

September 28. I cannot forget that dinner with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, just before leaving London, nor can I hope to recall its shining and enduring glory. I am a better, larger man, because of it. And how nearly our feet are set on the same way. It was as if we were all crossing the plains, and I for a day’s journey and a night’s encampment fell in with and conversed with the captains of the march.
But one may not gave names and dates and details over there as here. The home is entirely a castle. The secrets of the board and fireside are sacred. And then these honest toilers and worshippers of the beautiful are shy, so shy and modest. But I like this decent English way of keeping your name down and out of sight till the coffin-lid hides your blushes–so modest these Pre-Raphaelites are that I should be in disgrace forever if I dared set down any living man’s name.
But here are a few of the pearls picked up, as they were tossed about the table at intervals and sandwiched in between tales of love and lighter thoughts and things.
All London, or rather all the brain of London, the literary brain, was there. And the brain of all the world, I think, was in London. These giants of thought, champions of the beautiful earth, passed the secrets of all time and all lands before me like a mighty panorama. All night sol We dined so late that we missed breakfast. If I could remember and write down truly and exactly what these men said, I would have the best and the greatest book that ever was written, I have been trying a week in vain, I have written down and scratched out and revised till I have lost the soul of it, it seems to me; no individuality to it; only like my own stuff. If I only had set their words down on the next day instead of attempting to remember their thoughts! Alas! the sheaves have been tossed and beaten about over sea and land for days and days, till the golden grain is gone, and here is but the straw and chaff.
The master sat silent for the most part; there was a little man away down at the other end, conspicuously modest. There was a cynical fat man, and a lean philanthropist all sorts and sizes, but all lovers of the beautiful of earth. Here is what one, a painter, a ruddy-faced and a rollicking gentleman, remarked merrily to me as he poured out a glass of red wine at the beginning of the dinner:
“When travelling in the mountains of Italy, I observed that the pretty peasant women made the wine by putting grapes m a great tub, and then, getting into this tub, barefooted, on top of the grapes, treading them out with their brown, bare feet. At first I did not like to drink this wine. I did not think it was clean. But I afterward watched these pretty brown women” and here all leaned to listen, at the mention of pretty brown women– I watched these pretty brown women at their work in the primitive winepress, and I noticed that they always washed their feet after they got done treading out the wine.”
All laughed at this, and the red-faced painter was so delighted that he poured out and swallowed another full glass. The master sighed as he sat at the head of the table rolling a bit of bread between thumb and finger, and said, sitting close to me: “I am an Italian who has neven seen Italy. Belle Italia!…”
By and by he quietly said that silence was the noblest attitude in all things; that the greatest poets refused to write, and that all great artists in all lines were above the folly of expression. A voice from far down the table echoed this sentiment by saying:”Heard melodies are sweet; but unheard melodies are sweeter.” “Written poems are delicious; but unwritten poems are divine,” cried the triumphant cynic. “What is poetry?” cries a neighbor. “All true, pure life is poetry,” answers one. “But the inspiration of poetry?” “The art of poetry is in books. The inspiration of poetry in nature.” To this all agreed.
Then the master very quietly spoke: “And yet do not despise the books of man. All religions, said the Chinese philosophers, are good. The only difference is, some religions are better than others, and the apparent merit of each depends largely upon a mans capacity for understanding it. This is true of .poetry. All poetry is good. I never read a poem in my life that did not have some merit, and teach some sweet lesson. The fault in reading the poems of man, as well as reading the poetry of nature, lies largely at the door of the reader. Now, what do you call poetry?” and he turned his great Italian eyes tenderly to where I sat at his side.
To me a poem must be a picture,” I answered.
Proud I was when a great poet then said: “And it must be a picture–if a good poem so simple that you can understand it at a glance, eh? And see it and remember it as you would see and remember a sunset, eh?” “Aye,” answered the master, “I also demand that it shall be lofty in sentiment and sublime in expression. The only rule I have for measuring the merits of a written poem, is by the height of it. Why not be able to measure its altitude as you measure one of your sublime peaks of America?”
He looked at me as he spoke of America, and I was encouraged to answer:”Yes, I do not want to remember the words. But I do want it to remain with me a picture and become a part of my life. Take this one verse from Mr. Longfellow:
“And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.’”
“Good!” cried the fat cynic, who, I am sure, had never heard the couplet before, it was so sweet to him; “Good! There is a picture that will depart from no impressible clay. The silent night, the far sweet melody falling on the weary mind, the tawny picturesque Arabs stealing away m the darkness, the perfect peace, the stillness and the rest. It appeals to all the Ishmaelite in our natures, and all the time we see the tents gathered up and the silent children of the desert gliding away in the gloaming.”
A transplanted American, away down at the other end by a little man among bottles, said: “The poem of Evangeline is a succession of pictures. I never read Evangeline but once.” “It is a waste of time to look twice at a sunset,” said Rossetti, sotto voce, and the end man went on: “But i believe I can see every picture in that poem as distinctly as if I had been the unhappy Arcadian; for here the author has called in ail the elements that go to make up a perfect poem.”
“When the great epic of this new, solid Saxon tongue comes to be written,” said one who sat near and was dear to the master’s heart, “it will embrace all that this embraces: new and unnamed lands; ships on the sea; the still deep waters hidden away in a deep and voiceless continent; the fresh and fragrant wilderness; the curling smoke of the camp-fire; action, movement, journeys; the presence–the inspiring presence of woman; the ennobl- ing sentiment of love, devotion, and devotion to the death; faith, hope and charity,- and all in the open air.”
“Yes,” said the master thoughtfully, ‘no great poem has ever been or ever will be fitted in a parlor, or even fashioned from a city. There is not room for it there.”
“Hear! hear! you might as well try to grow a California pine in the shell of a peanut,” cried I. Some laughed, some applauded, all looked curiously at me. Of course, I did not say it that well, yet I did say it far better, I mean I did not use the words carefully, but I had the advantage of action and sympathy.
Then the master said, after a bit of reflection: “Homer’s Ulysses, out of which have grown books enough to cover the earth, owes its immortality to all this, and its out-door exercise. Yet it is a bloody book a bad book, in many respects–full of revenge, treachery, avarice and wrong. And old Ulysses himself seems to have been the most colossal liar on record. But for all this, the constant change of scene, the moving ships and the roar of waters, the rush of battle and the anger of the gods, the divine valor of the hero, and, above all, and over all, like a broad, white-bosomed moon through the broken clouds, the splendid life of that one woman; the shining faith, the constancy, the truth and purity of Penelope–all these make a series of pictures that pass before us like a panorama, and we will not leave off reading till we have seen them all happy together again, and been assured that the faith and constancy of that woman has had it reward. And we love him, even if he does lie!”
How all at that board leaned and listened. Yet let me again and again humbly confess to you that I do him such injustice to try thus to quote from memory. After a while he said: “Take the picture of the old, blind, slobber-mouthed dog, that has been driven forth by the wooers to die. For twenty years he has not heard the voice of his master. The master now comes, in the guise of a beggar. The dog knows his voice, struggles to rise from the ground, staggers toward him, licks his hand, falls, and dies at his feet.”
Such was the soul, heart, gentleness of this greatest man that I ever saw walking in the fields of art….

Gerald tells us that in the old English, this means Apple Tree Island, for “truly that place abounded in apples”. The monks discovered the grave between two stone pyramids, fully 16 feet into the ground as many of Henry’s sources had suggested it would be. Inside that grave was a large stone cross, which Gerald tells us “I have seen”, upon which was carved; “Here lies buried the famous King Arthur with Guinevere, his second wife, in the isle of Avalon”. The male skeleton was said to be of enormous proportions and a lock of golden hair identified the other body as a female. There was also a sword within the grave. The sword of King Arthur. The legendary Excalibur. Legend said that it had been returned to the Lady in the Lake, yet here it was, buried with Arthur and his wife.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to The Greek Rose of Florence

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    I sent this e-mail to Springfield’s Community Relation’s Manager after he asked me to give him more of my information he took when we met face to face. I am not being selfish and self-serving as Kathy Vrzak claims in a message she out on my facebook for all to read. The connection to Mary White Ovington, was being made in Lane County for almost twenty years. I just found out in the last 24 hours, while searching for the truth that will empower and protect me from yet another attack. I am considering founding the NAAWP . To Erik Nicolaisen Jul 21 at 6:41 AM
    Got some big ideas I am sharing with Niel. You working on a new project?

    The Greek Rose of Florence

    The Greek Rose of Florence
    Ken Babbs and Nancy Hamren at dedication of Kesey mural in Springfield, an amazing literary event and milestone….

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