Tag Archives: Merryn Williams

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


Filed under Hygge

Hygge Feature #16 hyggekrog

A hyggekrog is a small nook where one can feel safe. Maybe a window seat or a cosy reading corner, an inglenook fireplace or a small room. My study at home, for example, is quite a small, book-lined room with a real fire and a sofa to snuggle up on. It’s a burrow for humans, and may go back as an instinct to our cave-dwelling days where ancient humans were safe from wild beasts. Small children, and I was one such, love to make tents from blankets indoors, or play under the table, hide under the bed.


Photo by Angela Topping, of the wonderful lounge at Gladstone’s Library. There is a window seat in the bay to the right, and a bookcase full of books to the left, and in the winter, they light the fire. I loved this room when I was Writer-in-Residence in 2013. Cosy up with these poems:

Places to Run Away to Without Leaving Home
Leave Sunday-afternoon homework,
stealthily climb the stairs.
Snug into the linen cupboard, pull the door to.
Leave just a crack of light to pierce the cosy nest.
Daydream in muted light of burrows and bunnies,
hedgehogs and birds, under pillows and quilts
like warm snow, become a forest creature.
Snuggle in and doze.
Steal into your big brother’s room.
Sit in silence, touch hands-off things:
Delve into that realm so different from your own.
Gain clues from LP’s. Aftershave, big shoes.
Make roars through a black -rocket clarinet
Become a jazz man in a sleazy dive.
Read his diary, gather ammunition
for when blackmail might be a good idea.
Lean back against a fence, under a hedge,
where fairies flit and their mushroom tables
rise from dark soil beneath.
Catch flickers of sky from leather –shiny leaves,
spin dreams of adventures to come.
Smell sunshine on your tucked-up knees.
Let a caterpillar walk your finger.
Ignore Mum’s call, stay quiet and hidden.
 MIki Byrne
Lydia heard the wind outside.
It roared too loud; she woke and cried.
The great ash rocked, the clouds raced by;
how dark, the February sky.
Night and north wind rage around.
Sleep tight, Lydia, warm and sound.
No wind shall ever breach this wall.
The bough won’t break, your cot won’t fall.
Merryn Williams

My Own Address

This oak roof comforts me whenever
Mother drives the hoover monster close;
I see its snarling metal teeth. The house is
my own address, my damask walls.

Under this table, I have kissed feet:
they are gone now, these people I love.
It‘s just me and my doll, and she
is no company at all. Her eyes are empty.

When my mother’s house is full again
I will emerge, be given sweets. My daddy,
home from work, will invite me
to sit in my other place, the house he makes

between his back and his chair’s back.
I do not know why hiding is needed
or why when I‘m sad I go under the bed
where balls of grey dust scut like rabbits.


Angela Topping


from The Five Petals of Elderflower (Red Squirrel Press 2016)


Filed under Hygge

Hygge Feature #4 Home Baking and Shared Meals

Today it’s all about food, and it won’t be the only one with that angle! Home-made food is all about being cosy, sharing, and being in the present moment.

Making Bread

 Pungent baking smells fill the house.
Three loaves cool on wire racks.
A sharp knife separates a half inch slice,
speckled with oval sunflower sections.
A happy sigh ; the family is home.

First, a warm kitchen,
Tough brown bags of organic, wholemeal,
Stone-ground grains ; wheat, barley, rye.
Warm water, salt crystals, pearls of yeast
(Using the simplest and best, only the best.)
My hands that fold the warm trembling flesh,
Pat flour off my apron’s belly, into my hair.
The oven clicks, starts its rise with the bread.

Blue poppy seeds, sesame and buckwheat shards
Stretch apart on the swelling surface.
A good rise comes from the heart,
warmth inside and out ; the family is home

Vivien Jones

When I compose the bread, the knives,
pewter, lemons, gherkins, glass,
a lamp shines faintly on the past,
on unrecorded lives.
The flagon with its coarse red wine
recalls those women who arranged
the cups and cloth. This hasn’t changed;
their acts, their thoughts are mine.
Today, the salmon glows deep red.
I stoop, protect the modest light.
The pickled cucumbers are brought
out, to placate the dead.
Merryn Williams

Photo by Vivien Jones.

IMG_0800 (1).JPG


we were doing
something dangerous
with fire
with the flame
each match-head held
but could transmit
to tissue paper
loosely rolled
and in burning
heat the oxygen
to rise above
our held out palms
then falter
dip and float down
something lighter
than a hair
a whisper
drifting slowly
through the air

Brian Johnstone


Filed under Hygge