The Wren, the Sunflower, and the Rose.
By Tony Kilkelly
A little wren, after enjoying his now customary afternoon rest beneath the garden's most glorious sunflower, decided it was high time for an introduction.
I'm most dreadfully sorry to have to disturb you,' he chirruped merrily, only, I have been enjoying the delightful shade offered by your good self for some days now, and haven't once attempted to make your acquaintance.'
The wren, for what must have been the third time of trying, failed to alight upon the head of the sunflower, so for the time being he continued to address his new companion from the ground.
I do hope you'll excuse my rudeness, only, when it comes to formal introductions, we wrens are well know for our shyness.'
And with that, the wren finally managed to perch himself upon the handsome head of the bright yellow sunflower, who was just about to incline that same head in order to listen more attentively to this strange little bird.
Well,' replied the sunflower,' this introductions thing really does work both ways, and I really do feel it is I who must apologise to you, you are my guest, after all.'
Thank you, my good friend,' said the wren, you know, I don't know if anyone has ever mentioned this before, but you really are an extraordinary flower, I don't believe I have ever seen any of your kind looking quite so bright, nor quite so tall, please let me into your secret. You make all the flowers around you appear rather shabby in comparison.'
That's a very nice compliment, wren, said the sunflower, I would say that my role in life is to stretch forth my head toward heaven in glorious praise of the one who created me. Perhaps my brothers and sisters have no concept of purpose, and as for my 'brightness'' I can only say that, as I do not own any mirror, I really cannot see what I look like, but, if you say so, I will have to take your word it.'
Ah, sunflower, believe it!'
Not only are you far more handsome than these others, but you also have many fine uses, such as offering the most delightful of shady spots for poor, tired-out little birds such as myself!'
That is very kind of you to say so,' said the sunflower, I am only too glad to be of service to so fine a creature as yourself, but please, now you are quite in the open, would you not prefer to return to the shady spot you so describe with such relish?'
The wren, which was busy admiring the chocolate-coated centre of his new friend, had now lost his shyness completely.
I think it's much better for both of us if I remain here for the present,' he said, my voice doesn't carry so well from the ground, and I have many things I'd like to say to you regarding spiritual matters, that is, if you don't mind talking about such things, you see, sunflower, I do believe that you and I may, quite possibly, serve similar purposes, what with yourself and your growing ever higher toward heaven, and, as for myself, I enjoy nothing better than to be able to fill the garden with my songs, I have often wondered why I do it, but now, after listening to you I think I know the answer, for I too must have a purpose, I sing in praise of my creator!
Ah! If only you could understand the joy I feel when I'm singing, why, I believe I could scarcely exist without birdsongI simply MUST sing!'
Little wren, you have surely hit upon something which is also dear to my heart. There is nothing I delight in more than being able to stretch forth my tender leaves of an evening whilst taking in the romantic warbling of the blackbird do you know him by the way? He sits upon the aerial of the house nearby; why, his song is so beautiful I am often reduced to tears just listening to him.'
I do know the blackbird you speak of, yes. But, listen, my friend, we wrens can give a pretty good account of ourselves in the singing stakes too you know. And I'll tell you now, I shall, one of these summer's evenings, perch myself upon the garden fence nearby and sing a song just for you, the like of which you've never heard'
Thank you very much, kind bird, replied the sunflower, I shall look forward to it,' and with that, the two friends lapsed into a gentle reverie, neither spoke a word for some time, as they relaxed into the dazzling sun's warm embrace.
The next morning, the June sun appeared once again without so much as a cloud in sight, as the sunflower stretched forth toward the skies in praise of his creator. With a yawn and a sigh, he noticed the wren was still sitting wide-awake on top of his head.
Good morning, wren,' he whispered, I take it you've been awake some time? You birds certainly don't go in much for sleep, that's for certain.'
The wren, who was now busily engaged in the act of staring openly into the chocolate-orange face of his friend, began to turn his head to one side before proclaiming:
Why, sunflower, how wonderful! I do believe you have grown another 2 centimetres at least! And, as for your petals, they really are THE most glorious, golden-yellow colours I have ever seen!.
The sunflower, whose custom it was every morning to survey each and every corner of the wondrous garden in which he resided, found his gaze eventually alighted upon a rosebush, and in particular he could not avert his attention from the alluring sight of one, newly-opened red rose, which, according to his own romantic ideals of perfection, appeared to be the most beautiful flower he could possibly imagine.
Every delicate petal on this amazing red rose was miraculous in its splendour. The other roses paled into insignificance in comparison as this delightful phenomenon stood out, majestically radiant in her dazzling beauty.
The sunflower, now sighing for the third time, became lost in reverie as his friend the wren flew off into the morning sunshine, muttering something about his need of a good breakfast of spiders.
The rose, he now realised with some dismay, was much too far away for any possible attempt at conversation, and the sunflower began to ponder on the unfairness of his lot. Meanwhile, the wren, once the spider he had just consumed had been digested, perched himself upon the very same rose bush which had now become his friend sunflower's main focus of attention, and was just about to launch into song when a lady's quiet voice stopped him in his tracks.
Pardon me;' said the voice, only I noticed you appeared on friendly terms with that tall, handsome, and most elegant sunflower across the way?
And, I wondered, would you be so kind as to pass on a message to him for me?'
Why, ahem! Yes, but of course. You are correct, that sunflower you describe does indeed happen to be my very good friend. But what would you like me to tell him, my good lady rose?'
Please ask him, if it isn't too much trouble, exactly why does he keep on staring at me so?'
Ha-ha!' replied the wren; I wondered why sunflower didn't reply when I was filling him in on the delights of a wren's breakfast, now I know!'
Once the sunflower had been informed of the rose's message, he allowed himself a few moments thought, and with a gentle nod of self-congratulation, his following discourse, at least so it seemed to the wren, was rather self-pitying in tone.
Oh! But this isn't fair! Really not fair at all, I mean, just look at her! Have you ever seen anything quite so beautiful? A rose amongst roses and yethere am I, standing here, at the other end of a simply TOO-extensive garden and never a hope of a single word!
How on earth can I engage this wonderful creation in conversation? Why, I may just as well have been planted a million miles away or boxed off to Australia for all the good it'll do me, I can't even ask her name!'
Quite apart from the lady asking you your reasons for staring,' said the wren rather matter-of-factly, she also mentioned the fact that you were erhandsome, tall, and, I also believe, the word 'wonderful'' may also have been banded about, but then, my hearing isn't always all it's cracked up to be, so I may have been mistaken about that one.'
What!' bellowed the sunflower, well why didn't you tell me that in the first place? But now I do believe I'm even more frustrated than before! Oh, the unfairness of it all.'
H'm, you know, your communication worries really needn't amount to any problem at all. I will be your messenger, sunflower, so do tell me, before I am to advance back and forth bearing sentiments of love, are you going to answer the lady's question as to why you have been staring at her since the early hours, though I am of course, fully aware of your reply!'
But what a kind, thoughtful, little bird you are,' said the sunflower, I would of course, be proud if you will be my message-bearer, but please, from now on you must please call me by my name, I have already told you the story behind it, so, little wren, from now on, please call me Tonio, and perhaps, that is, should the good lady ask, you could also inform her of my name.'
And. her question?'
Just tell her.' answered the sunflower, tell her I hope she doesn't think my constant staring impolite, only, I would like her to know I would very much doubt, that in all of creation there exists so fine, so extraordinary, so noble and pure, a red rose as she. She is exquisite, beautiful and delicate, oh, and wren, please don't forget to ask her her name!'
I shall carry your message immediately,' said the wren, and I am sure the lady rose will be more than delighted when I inform her of your loving sentiments.'
And with that, the wren took his leave of his friend and flew toward the other side of the garden and the habitation of the rose, who was delighted to see him, and to hear the wren's tidings.
A long time ago,' began the rose, A famous count in Spain named a new species of my kind after his wife, he called the rose in question, 'Branquia,'' and after a time, the same rose was exported here, and, well. Here I am! I am so named after the countess of Xerez.But, little wren, I am delighted to learn of your friend's name, how did he come by such a romantic name as Tonio?'
Ah!' replied the wren, that's easy, there is a little boy who lives here, sometimes he comes into the garden to play, I believe the original variety of sunflower seed which he planted was called 'Tonio.''
Tonio and Branquia,' mused the rose, I think I like the sound of that.'
And with that, the wren, who was himself becoming increasingly enraptured by his hostess's many fine qualities, took himself off to the garden fence, where he burst forth into song, and the song he sang told of unrequited love, while the sunflower and the rose looked on wistfully.
The next morning brought forth another cloudless sky, and the two flowers, via the trilling messages of their mutual friend the wren, sent each other poems, songs, and questions. The wren, who had been instructed to recite the lyrics to one particular little ditty entitled, I'll never hold my Branquia close' became so upset when carrying the message that he had to turn his tiny head to one side so the rose couldn't see the tears which had splashed onto one of his wings; not that this would have mattered as Branquia herself could hardly breath she was so affected by the heartrending song.
Oh my!' said the wren suddenly, would you believe it? Not a cloud in sight, yet, I do believe I distinctly felt rain.'
Later that afternoon, as the heat of the day brought a certain stillness to the garden, the sunflower was suddenly aware of a strange, light tickling sensation upon one of his inner petals.
The wren, who was in fact in the process of giving his good friend a kiss, whispered:
She saysshe loves youand wishes, with all her heart that the two of you could be together, growing side by side til the end of time.'
On hearing this, the sunflower gave a sigh of dismay, and allowed his bright yellow head to droop, while tears of misery fell to the scorched earth beneath. Indeed, he began to wonder, and not for the first time, as to why his creator had placed him in this particular spot, if his sole reason for existence revolved around his standing here in abject misery while the object of his devotion lay just out of reach of his tender embrace.
The next evening, the lady of the house thought it was high time the garden received a good hosing down, as there'd been no rain for a fortnight.
This welcome, and refreshing evening drink appeared to breathe fresh life and vigour into the garden, and all of the flowers, apart that is, from one particular still drooping red rose, benefited from the deluge.
The lady, upon inspecting the rosebush, noticed the now slightly blackened petals of the previously glorious red rose, so she quickly deadheaded the flower with a cry of ah, much better,' before marching herself off toward the bed of sunflowers at the other end of the garden.
After refreshing herself over a welcome cuppa, the lady's attentions were drawn toward the delightful aspect of a little wren, who was sat perched upon the head of it had to be said -one rather miserable-looking sunflower, whose petals had turned brown, and seemed so out of place amongst the brightly-coloured plants surrounding it.
Having no wish to offend her neighbour's ideas of good taste, she then produced a hefty pair of seceteurs, and, as the wren thankfully then flew off toward a nearby elder tree, the woman deftly removed the offending dead flower, before depositing both it, together with the rose and some nearby brambles onto the compost heap.
At that precise same moment, a small brown object fell from the branches of the elder tree onto the grass beneath.
That night, a supernatural glow appeared in that corner of the garden, which had been reserved for that same compost heap.
In heaven, God instructed the angel to go forth and find him the most precious, and beautiful flowers he could find.
Bowing humbly, the angel said:
I have already done so, Lord, here, I have found the reddest, and most beautiful rose you could wish to see, and here is the brightest, and tallest golden-yellow sunflower in all creation.'
You have chosen wisely,' said God, now go, plant the sunflower and the rose, in my garden, where they will grow, side by side for ever more.'
The host of heaven, who had been watching these proceedings with some interest, smiled and nodded eagerly to one another as the angel departed, carrying on his shoulder a little brown wren.