Hygge Feature 33 # Against the Horror

When I started this feature my aim was to let poetry shine some light into the darkest time of year. 2016 was a very difficult year on the world stage. We are all aware of the results of two very important votes which rocked the fabric of society as we know it. The sense of hopelessness has been hard to cope with. Protests and anger have their place become exhausting. Like many people I personally am affected by cold, dark days both physically and mentally. I would like to thank the many poets who submitted poems for the feature, whether I used them or not. I was amazed and very grateful for the interest in this feature which some people have shown. It has been a lot of work to put it together but when people tell me it has helped them, that makes it all worthwhile.

I have been saving this poem by Sally Evans for the last day, because it expresses exactly what I was hoping to do. Sally was attending a Very Peculiar Burns Supper. organised by Ian Maxtone. Surrounded by friends, sharing poems, in difficult times – that is the notion of hygge I have been working with.

My own poem  shared below, is a fairly recent one, which was first published on I am not a Silent Poet. I too was sharing a meal with poetry friends, but it was a different kind of anniversary, one of war and death. It reflects on Brexit and Trump, and has no answers. Art provokes questions. And sometimes all we can do is hunker down with our tribe and practise a little kindness.


Photo of Sally Evans by Sweet Pea photography


“I don’t want to read a poem”

I don’t want to read a poem
for the simple reason I don’t want to write one.
I want to sit quietly watching
this part of the world go by
because it is hygge and simpatico,
complex words I have collected
for a warm presence of people
in a room that does its best
against the winter, against the horror
we have mostly experienced
in the past weeks,
the political maelstrom
that all deplore except those
who run with it,
crying Amen to decisions
we cannot countenance.

I want to sit among cheerful friends
looking across the tables
at broken crackers and candles,
tumblers with orange juice,
and the rich coffee we have ordered
but has not yet come –
writing away in a notebook
someone has actually given me –
they are these sorts of friends –
writers and those who understand them,
protesters and analysts,
recorders and accepters,
while windows onto the darkened winter trees
are ranged round the room between paintings,
bold coloured, abstract posters,
brightening this troubled time,
consoling the old, encouraging the young
and holding its own, this room
in a world of fascism and illiberalism
out of tune with our writing,
a world neither the old nor young
expected or deserved.

I have written so many poems
and this is where it brought us
so I do not want to read a poem
but to sit here and be content.


Sally Evans



Remembrance Day 2016

The train manager requests two minutes silence
as benevolent morning sun touches
middle England’s fields with gilt
while across the Channel, the Somme’s
sweet rolling hills are healing over
despite zig-zag trenches and craters
where paper poppies decay and fall
like blood-stained confetti.

Leonard Cohen has sung his last gravelly elegy,
so long Marianne and all the rest of us.
Obama leaves the White House,
Britain turns its back on the EU.
What vultures are hovering we do not know.
Over Mexican food three poets
talk passionately of politics, uneasy isms.
The papers continue to report things we cannot stomach.


Angela Topping




Filed under Hygge

8 responses to “Hygge Feature 33 # Against the Horror

  1. Here’s to sharing meals and poetry with friends when the outlook is bleak, Angela. Thanks so much for your hygge feature. I have thoroughly enjoyed it – it’s so good to have some reasons to be cheerful in these dark days.


  2. jaynestanton

    Angela, many thanks for your efforts in sharing such a range of Hygge poems. I’ve looked forward to finding your post notifications in my inbox.

  3. mavisgulliver

    Very moving poems to end with, Angela. It’s been a treat reading your blog so a huge thank you for what must have been a time-consuming task. I think I said it before, but I’ll say it again – it would be wonderful to have this Hygge collection in printed form but that would be too much to ask. Very best wishes with whatever you are moving on to.

  4. Faye joy

    A lovely project Angela!

  5. The perfect end to a wonderful project. Thanks, Angela. Have you thought of asking Teika about the possibility of publishing a Hygge anthology?

  6. maureen Weldon

    These two poems are very powerful, and they speak of the dreadful and frightening time we are living in at this moment. But the human spirit is strong.
    Angela I have enjoyed this project of Hygge so much. Thank you.

  7. Dear Angela – thank you for all your work in putting together the Hygge Features. How good it’s been having a daily dose of hygge to offset the unfolding horrors on the political front. It’s been heartening to see in the work of so many talented poets, including yourself, how widely in life hygge may be found.

    Sally’s “I don’t want to read a poem” and your ‘Remembrance Day 2016’ are deeply felt, soul-stirring poems, and conclude the sequence well. But such is the value of the sequence, complete with introductions and photography, I think it would be great if it could be brought out as a print anthology for the benefit of all in these disturbing times.

    Very best wishes,