Tag Archives: Jane Burn

Hygge Feature #21 Responding to Art

Art in itself might not feel very hyggelig (the adjective for hygge, which is a noun), because it is often viewed in galleries, which are not homely. However, it is the way we respond to art, the emotions it can give us, when we look at it, that can give us that warm happy feeling. . These two poems express that notion very beautifully.


Some night, when I’m marooned in Scarborough,
and dusk falls early, and the town
shows hardly any sign of life, because
the year is on the ebb, tourists long gone –
only chilled foam lashes the promenade,
only the sea, withdrawing, can be heard –
I’d go to one particular old house
whose door would magically open,
walk through the dim rooms with my torch,
ignore the hallmarked silver,
go to the fireplace, where it’s hung
for eighty years, and steal the Atkinson Grimshaw –
you won’t know him – the half-forgotten painter
of moonlight, clouds, dark water.
The view is complete.
A port, the moon, ships sunk in profound sleep.
This picture wouldn’t be wired; it would
come off the wall quite easily.
And then I’d hug it under
my coat, sneak home, leaving the north of England
without its greatest treasure.
In my dreams, the theft always ends quite happily.

Merryn Williams





On Looking at Monet’s Water Lilies

Fading sight bade him search
behind human vision
for impressions of changing time,
dawn and eve, noon and night. A diffusion
of green, blue and lilac in the air –
leafy pads in violet, viridian, blended soft
in madder lake. The endlessness of water,
sky, light, their reflections above
and beneath. No definition of where
a horizon should begin or end,
nor where you should stand to view it.
A capturing of shifting qualities,
A feeling of growth –
the permutation of elements
in front of, and behind
The mind’s eye.


Jane Burn




Photo of a mixed media collage of a thrush, by Angela Topping



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Hygge Feature #10: Tea

An important part of hygge is hot drinks. The Danes prefer coffee but tea is the UK favourite. It’s where we turn in times of trouble, visitors and happiness, for our comfort.


Where I was

It was one of
those days when it was good
to be indoors, when just

sipping black tea from a spotted
cup was enough.
The news was hushed.

He didn’t want to tell us;
once he’d said it
it would be real.

And afterwards, it snowed.
The whole window-frame
was filled with it. So soft,

each flake touched
the window, as if
it had never been.

Carole Bromley




As hot as I can stand it,
just like a builder would drink,
leaning at your counter top,
giving you a quote for your kitchen.
The colour of varnish.
Mahogany, it travels through my veins,
pockets in my stomach like a posset,
heats my extremities.
Warms the cockles.
It’s sweet, much too sweet –
but I find that I need the sugar,
crave the saccharine.
Warm and milky,
swirled and spooned –
my mouth is a cave,
flushed with a sea of it.

Jane Burn


Dad’s Tea

Gave up milk and sugar in the war, long before I was born,
came to prefer his dark bitter brew. Couldn’t abide it weak:
if he could see white china at the bottom, he’d send it back
to the pot for further steeping. In vain I tried to get the spoon
standing up for him. The last one poured was always his.

We knew how to drink tea in our house. Countless cups of it
punctuated the day, from the early morning bedside one
to his enquiry every evening at nine: would you like a cup of tea?
before mother went to bed and he clocked off tea-making.
Tea was the reaction to every crisis, arrival and departure.

One evening, I listened to Under Milk Wood on the radio
in my room, wrapped in a blanket. He brought me tea,
a bowl of milky porridge, glistening with brown sugar.
Tea was the last thing he drank before he died:
I had carried a cup to him, strong and hot, rattling on its saucer.

Tea was the way we loved each other, the way he treated me,
and gentled my mother, with scones just out of the oven,
new bread and blackberry jam, apple pie. Easier than words
which made him trip and stumble since his childhood stammer.
Our tea cosy was stained brown where it snugged the spout.

Angela Topping

from Hearth (Mother’s Milk Books 2015)



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Hygge Feature #2 Togetherness

Armchair Lullaby

Such peace
in the way he creases
the nook of my shoulder.
Hair that smells of air and fresh grass
fans my jumper, slightly damp.

Our breath, slow in, slow out,
heads bobbing back and forth –
he is a coracle riding my chest rolls.
The gift of his weight. His gentle suckling
of the air around us.

Jane Burn

Photo credit: Jane Burn20170110_210006s

Tea Cosy
Do come, on Saturday, at around half past ten
when the light is strong but the day still young.
Bring your needlework bag, your cottons, your scissors
and we will work together, lay patches on the table,
choose colours to complement our theme,
pick pieces that depict our lives: Hettie’s schooldress,
the blouse you wore to Megan’s wedding.
We’ll cut and stitch, we’ll tack and match our hexagons,
sew round the paper templates that keep the shape,
add layers, pad with soft white wadding.
And when our patchwork tea cosy is made
and we’ve reminisced of days that interthread,
we’ll share a cup of tea, all butter shortbread,
talk of pole dancing, Mandela, our next project.
Nicky Phillips
First published in Brittle Star, July 2014
Tea Dance

Look, it’s raining.
Let’s stay home and sit in the bath instead,
reading books to each other.

And after we can swap ball gowns
for their dressing version,
and dance in the kitchen
to the sound of the immersion.
Let’s stay here,
there’s no need to go anywhere.
We should ignore the run of the town;
make our own entertainment
and turn           everything        down.

We’ll twirl under the strip light
as one half of it

There’s no reason for everything that glitters
to be driven by electricity.
In amongst the cups and plates
we can be fuelled by hot drinks
and something warm from a CD.
We could discuss the nature
of all things involved in being happy.
I trust we will concur.
Mat Riches

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