Making music together is an important part of Hygge, because it’s all about losing oneself in the music and become part of something bigger. This warm, cosy photo of poet Fred Johnston at a music session with friends sums it all up for me. The photo was taken by Mary Ellen Fean. Each musician is intent on their playing and everyday troubles can be forgotten for a moment. These three beautiful poems by Vivien Jones go so well with this photograph.
A New Viol
These days, used to instruments
swinging on the washing line,
the village approves our eccentricity.
‘The house with the instruments’
is what they call us.
The viols spin slowly in a sea breeze,
absorbing ultra violet light,
layers of skin thin varnish, hardening.
Today you brought another one.
How I love yew,
and ripple sycamore,
not toffee glossy,
but satin-sheened like
the inside skin of your thighs.
You hand me a bow,
six stretched gut strings waiting.
What sound is like that ?
Near human, piercing the heart,
Wood, sheep’s gut and horse hair,
touching our souls.
Hour Glass Rapture
She stands, little harpsichord hands round
a bundle of harpsichord books,
head slightly cocked,
eyes locked on a bow
coaxing sound from a string.
A five hundred year old tune
warms her body to syrup,
she pours herself onto a seat and sighs.
He squints at a 1960s screen,
(The Shads, swinging their stiff English hips,
the voice of a Fender, a thrill in the heart,
the shock of good vibrations)
an undersized schoolboy’s rapture
ignited in respectable surroundings,
in deep love forever.
‘May I…?’ She asks, reaching out,
‘Sorry for the shortness of my skirt’
Astride the viol, she plucks the strings,
whispering their tuning, unfamiliar.
He hands her a bow, underhand grip;
not knowing how, she makes her move ;
the gut string sings.
He trains to make, he teaches, he plays,
he grows and flows through folk and blues,
everyday music every day.
Sunday morning, 1970s,
two minutes of radio
carves out a cave in his repertoire.
David Munrow versus Little Feat
He cobbles a viol.
Tallis’ Canon ; one faltering finger
fighting a mind that knows Bach.
‘Again, again.’ She is hard on herself,
not forgiving a broken sequence.
Slowly, a sound comes that closes her eyes,
when the harmony starts, she weeps.
Mean tone, mean seduction.
Voicing a Viol
My woods are sycamore, laburnum and box.
My strings are sheep gut, plain or barley twist.
On my belly rises my curving bridge
over which my six strings stretch
My pegs pierce their tapered box like offset arrows.
The bow –
which is apart, is horse-tail and beech.
My neck nestles hers, my scroll examines her ear.
I fit snugly (as he does) between her legs –
I lie back on her shoulder ( as he does) :
In her embrace I am weightless (as he is).
Does she touch him, as she does me,
with infinite tenderness ?
Does he sing out too ?