Tag Archives: poetry

Hygge Feature #22 Pregnancy

What could be more appropriate to hygge than the womb? It’s surely the hyggekrog we all wish subliminally to return to, where we were warm and cosy, could dream our own dreams while hearing the sound of the world through a soft wall, with all our food delivered.

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Soon Song
for Ethan

I’m joy-struck, dumb,
not numb, wee bun.
I couldn’t be fonder of you,
wandering sun of her
humming circumference,
drumming the tum of her,
more than the sum
of her and him.

Wee dove, wee chicken,
wee bun in the oven,
they haven’t a clue,
in the world how you
will sing them a song
that they never knew,
that they never sang
till they sing it to you.

O, you’ll have the run
of them soon, wee bun,
soon, when they cling to you,
drink in the skin of you,
soon, when you come,
wee bun, come new to them,
come to them soon,
wee bun, new kin to them.

Linda Goulden

First published in Magma 58 March 2014

 

Describing to my daughter how it feels when her baby quickens

Over and over, you ask yourself if
that’s it, or that …?
a feather might’ve touched you
but perhaps it was a digestive juice…
It feels like your imagination at work
but maybe it’s an intelligence …
Is it something you’ve swallowed?
Or are you just feeling nervous?
From inside a finger is stroking you
or a toe is reaching out to you
filling its universe of your interior space –
already a future tense has begun,
so close to your heart
you know its beat is being heard  –
your insides, your bones and sinews
are containing a presence,
so closely enwrapped together
but not yet feeling like touch.

Rebecca Gethin

 

Ultrasound
We were spies on her world –
her safe house of skin. She
was etched in silver: moving, human.

She swam in a booming cave,
fathoms down. Heavy rope mooring her.
Round face, round eyes, ooh of mouth.

Gingerbread baby, currant eyes.
At home, I twist wool around needles,
craft garments, every stitch a wish.

Angela Topping

First published in Dandelions for Mothers’ Day (Stride 1988) and reprinted in Letting Go (Mother’s Milk Books)

 

A note on today’s artwork: The artist’s website is here: https://marijasmits.wordpress.com/

This picture is one of several made into cards and on sale at http://www.mothersmilkbooks.com/index.php/shop

The Mother’s Milk Books poetry and prose competition closes today (31st January 2017) and the entry fee is a purchase from the website.

 

 

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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.

THE ART THIEF

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

 

 

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

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Hygge Feature #18 Objects of Happiness

Most people have some small possessions of little monetary value, but great joy is attached to them, either because they please the senses or because they are associated with a happy memory or a loved person. Using and touching these things enables the owner to enjoy a sense of living in the moment, which is a key aspect of hygge.

Cupboard

I, who’ve inherited nothing, except
this nose more arched than a harp,
these hips made to cradle a life,
find in these old things enough
to still my quivering beak, which
pricks in every direction of a map;
enough to soothe the soup of my belly,
which craves to feed to lips of a babe.

Be still. These delicate, finely-wrought
treasures live in a cupboard that’s cradle-
sized. My eyes sip at them daily,
when making tea, or slipping the coats
from potatoes. Two cruets, as white as
atoms; twin egg cups, as blue as forever.
The bowls I bought back in Kyoto,
black and red, lacquered like beads.


A glass patterned with the queen
of hearts, fashioned by hand in the
50s. An iron teapot, for ceremonies
by kimono-clad women, or samurai.
Is there a difference? I twirl my knife
and hum, keep my pattern of daily
ritual before these sitting things,
their bodies as sturdy as Buddhas.

Cleared from the homes of the dead,
they are small joys which, in my
small world, loom large. The dust
which rests on them, settles me.
Relics and remnants, shy souvenirs;
yet their presence calms as I cut carrots,
slice bread, my bird nose inert for a
minute, my stomach quiet for a time.

Mab Jones
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Photo credit: Mab Jones

Her Sewing Box

Propeller bias binding, a packet each of white, royal blue and pink,

3 yards, unopened, cellophaned and colour-fast; a strip of Velcro;

Best Brass Pins, Lillikins, stabbed through their Wreath & Lion sheet;

Cards of silver poppers; two more of hooks and eyes; a buckle blank;

Nylusta nylon stocking thread, extra fine, colour eight;

Petersham and Rufflette tape; a pair of scissors, plated gold,

Shaped like a peering stork; a crochet hook; some lace;

A Gold Flake tin, crammed tight with dark grey mending wool,

Two khaki buttons, five brass, a length of purple ribbon;

A dozen silver thimbles, each cupped inside the next

And wrapped in tissue; a twist of jet black bugle beads;

Large safety pins in silver and smaller ones in gold;

A sheet of iron-on transfers – a lamb, a dog, a horse;

A bodkin; bobbins; a quick unpick; a shuttered zip;

The old French knitting doll, with half-worn smile;

Babies’ buttons shaped as trains and stars and berries;

And so much thread – Coats and Sylko, Drima, Anchor, Gutermann –

In party colours, scarlet, turquoise, rose. And so much thread.

Angi Holden

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Hygge Feature #17 Coming in from the cold and dark

Being outdoors in the cold and coming home makes hygge more intense. A bowl of soup, a warm fire and the tingle of warmth returning to frozen hands and feet – it’s almost worth going outside for! Marion Clarke, from Northern Ireland, sent me this beautiful poem/photo, which inspired today’s post.

icy-twilight

white fire

the silence of me looking out
at the world from the doorway
and you looking at me looking out
letting in the cold and not minding for once

the icing sugar coating over so many
houses, sheds and cars, quilting
the fields, the snow still falling
softly now, lazily, every flake

taking its time, enjoying the last
freshets of air whilst deciding
where and how to kiss the ground
or the fence post or the branch or

another snowflake – the silence beckons –
but slowly, I balance on the threshold
unsure whether to go walk in the crisp
snow and footprint a new story on the

world or turn back to the
warmth within, back to the open
fire of spitting logs
and blushing coal and sofa chairs

that sink a little and swallow your
weight, but the indecision
is also delicious – the inbetween
-ness of outside, inside, and you looking

at me looking at the world

Bethany Rivers

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Hygge

Glasgow 2017

 

The house is cold after our absence

no heat, bustle of people

lonely.

 

Taking down the flour, I start a soda bread

sifting, bicarb, pinch salt, last week’s milk

 

The smell expands conjures childhood

comfort, a warm slice with butter

kettle on.

 

Rain beats on my window, dark descends.

The house envelops me, home.

 

 Rona Fitzgerald

 

 

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Hygge Feature #14 Snuggles with Babies

Everyone who has ever cuddled a baby knows that nothing is more hygge. The way they nestle in, so trusting; the way they fit so perfectly into arms; the sweet scent of them. Photo credit: Angela Topping, of my first baby, Laura Megan.

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Carrying my daughter home
The thud of my boots and the cushion of my breast
give her courage. She is bold against the January night:
her knitted hat raised to the rain, to the bluster at her back.

Her lapis eyes glitter over rosegold cheeks, peering from the safety
of the sling; dimpled hands tap silent rhythms on my ribs. She is calm;
millennia of instinct have distilled into this child. We skip as one

through a chiaroscuro of side streets, kicking the weight of places to see
and people to be like crusts of snow from our heels. Inside we leave
the howling hills behind. Snug in the yellow window-glow of the kitchen,

her youngest brother puts the kettle on. I warm my daughter’s feet
between my ungloved hands, and tuck her into the safety of new blue
pyjamas, settle the shiver of her breath onto my shoulder.

Kate Garrett

 

 

FIRSTBORN

For Caryl

You announced your entry
into the world,
with a cry so gentle
it fell on my ears like a song.
You left my body, but when they laid you,
skin on skin, warm and wet,
against my empty belly,
you entered my heart.
I stroked the smooth curve of your cheek,
the damp down of your hair,
took your hand and felt your fingers
coil and clasp with surprising strength.
I have watched you grow and blossom,
bear children of your own
and through it all we’ve shared
a million touches,
but I will never forget the first –
that warm, wet touch of your body
when they laid you, skin on skin,
against my empty belly.

Mavis Gulliver

SECOND BORN

For Ashlyn

I remember the moment I first held you.
Your body warm, eyes closed,
tiny mouth instinctively seeking
my breast.

Now, a generation on you hand to me
your new-born daughter.
I take her.
Feel that self same rush of love,
raw and fiercely protective,
yet so tender,
that my breathing almost stops.

She lies in the curve of my arm,
eyelashes dark against her silk smooth cheek,
soft down of hair, tendrils of fingers
curled around my own.
This baby, longed for, wept for,
come at last.

I meet your eyes
and in our look is understanding,
love, relief, delight.
Your smile is flooded with maternal pride
yet tinged with awe.
We share a new and even deeper bond,
each knowing what it is to bear a child.

Mavis Gulliver

First published in Reach (won 2nd prize).

 

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Hygge Feature #13 Domestic Delights

The simple joys of home: a bunch of daffodils, a bowl of hyacinths, blue and white pottery, candlelight and starlight, all can lift the spirits without expense. Today I have chosen one of mine, previously unpublished, because it goes so well with this photo and Maureen’s hyacinths, and Brian Johnstone’s meditative poem rounds off beautifully.

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Photo Credit: Lucy Byrne

 

Midnight Robin

 

While the sky shimmers like shot silk,
chimney pots a toothy smile,
I count the pots, 1 2 3 4 5.

On my kitchen table, sheets and sheets
of screwed up poems,
I will flatten them tomorrow
for shopping lists.

While perfumed smells of hyacinths
bring memories of my mother:
‘they make lovely Christmas presents’
she would say, as she potted and tended …

The evening moves along
as evenings do…
The moon a half golden bracelet.
The sky cluttered with stars.

All is still, no cars, no trains.
And in this stillness
the midnight robin sings.

Maureen Weldon

First appeared in her pamphlet Midnight Robin, published by Poetry Space (2014)

 

January

This is the still time of year.
The snows have gone,
melting back into the atmosphere.
Not even snowdrops dare to break
the frosty earth. Indoors in their china bowl
paper-white narccissi sail like stars
against the window’s glossy black glass,
unnatural, forced from the bulb too soon.
The new year’s bombs lie undetonated.
Storms must be weathered.
This is the still time of night.
I am trying to unbury the past,
to find flowers still hidden in the bulb,
this time to nurture them.

Angela Topping

 

HERMITAGE
Mrs Baxter’s Lang Rig, St Andrews

The sense of habitation
this stone-built structure gives
has married three to one,

placed human souls
between the meat and wine,
with fire to warm and candlelight

to talk or dine by, here
where garden gives to orchard
and the walls protect.

This simple grasp of needs sets
pigeon boles in tiers to fill
the attic space with burbled song,

the while to raise
as fowl. The table waits below.
Beneath its feet the vaulted cellar

houses vintage upon vintage
labelled, racked, awaiting hands
to pair them to the meal,

to light the wick and kindle flame,
to feast on what this space
has stored against

the cold of winter, summer heat,
the fuss and bustle
of the house and its affairs

all left behind, deferred
to this retreat inhabited by ghosts
conversing, raising up a glass.

Brian Johnstone

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Hygge Feature #12: Baby, it’s cold outside

“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful… ” When it snows, the world looks clean and bright, unless you have to drive in it. Snow looks best viewed from the window, although this photo was taken from the top of Billinge Lump,  by me. Today’s poems are coming in out of the cold and getting cosy, or watching the snow from indoors.

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Upper Wharfedale

At first, just grey, the sky snow-laden,
and far-off sheep like stones on winter fells.
An old man, moleskinned-up and twine cinched,
times his bootsteps to the drub of a gale, the rub
of a collie, close and low, gathering shadows
in her wall-eyed squint.

Cloud, loosed from drystoned horizons,
blows across lead-mines, through the marsh,
swabbing tractor gouges, hoof-poached peat,
the upturned, blackened face of soil.
Hear curlew madrigals, lapwing decussate the mist,
an old man coughing, nipped to his core.

Grey houses, hunkered under ferny crags,
impervious to rain and storm, to swirl and flood
of windslapped river, to fallen willow creeled
beneath a stone-arched bridge where cows once trod,
home for the milking, reds and whites
with fondant eyes.

A boy, who taunted the Angus bull
with stick and cat-calls, who barely lived
to brag another day, pulls broken crayfish traps
from underneath the half drowned stepping-stones,
his brick-red, scarred reflection wavering
in pools and eddies.

Sweet stink of mistle and, resting by the wall,
redundant milk-churns, lipped white with fungus,
plump haloes of stars. Among the ash trees,
through the wych elms, all about the ancient
wet woods, jackdaws swagger, gather twigs
to drop down unprotected stacks.

A wood-stove dissipates the chill, flames flower
through gloom, like strewn geraniums, warm
cold, wet feet and shiny, chilblained fingers
and everything is reddened, drying, thawed.
A long-night moon bestrides the dale, snow settles,
and a home bound vixen shrieks.

Lesley Quayle

 

Snow Globe       

Look, look, I call,
come and look
through the window.

You’re there
in half a minute,
pull back the curtains.

It’s snowing
softly, suddenly,
cloud-fall of crystals

meshing, balancing
their own weight,
feathering brick walls,

blossoming on kerbsides,
embroidering wheelie
bins with bridal white.                                     .

One shake of the sky
and we’re outside
looking in,

our breath
misting
the glass.

Sheila Jacob

 

Some seek the fire,
I seek the moon

Winter’s sharp cold
clarifies skies, inner thoughts.
Just when we think it is most cruel,
winter drapes bare branches in
garments of frosty glory.

Inside, most sit by fire’s light
seeking its warm glow
warmth as an inner respite
from, an antidote to
outside’s cold.

Though inside, I’m
by the window
watching snow fall,
flake by flake
down silver paths set by
moonlight endowing
my lawn with the rainbow
glow of light on frost, glorying
in cold comfort.

Joan Leotta

 

 

 

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