Tag Archives: Vivien Jones

Hygge Feature #24 The Pleasures of Music

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 laburnum
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 ?


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Hygge Feature #9 of Food and Nurturing

Two things which embody Hygge for me are: food lovingly made to share, and mothers. One does not need to have given birth to be a mother. Some people are naturally nurturing, and it is people like that I am thinking of. People who make your favourite food because you are coming to see them, and who share freely.

My Mother’s Chemistry

experiments in the oven,
a laboratory of smells,
of textures, of flavours.

cakes with earthquake crusts,
oozing moist chocolate,
scenting the 4.30 kitchen

just as we came home,
a chaos of satchels, duffle bags
bumping, stilled by aromas.

Apple pies with pastry roses,
yellow silken custard pooled
in the folds of the petals.

And Christmas, oh Christmas
in her kitchen, a harmony of spices,
of hot rum in the cake,

of brandy in the mince pies,
the once a year chicken
with oozing, pimpled skin,

my mothers’ maths was division,
five cuts, large for Dad, small for her,
three perfect angles for us.

I won’t make bread – she said,
suspicious of yeast movements
– no telling where it will end.

Vivien Jones

Poem with a Satsuma in it

There is no sunset can rival
the particular shade of its skin

no sunrise the pimpled texture
no noon-glow the zing.

There can never be too many
satsumas in poems,

each segment a stanza,
every metaphor a pip.

I open a book of them
and my mouth waters

even before I’ve tasted
the opening line.

My grand-daughter
can’t say the word,

just points
more, more, more

 Carole Bromley
(first published in The Stonegate Devil Smith/Doorstop)



My mother fed my father
home-grown berries lifted
from their beds of soft, pale straw.
She picked them, washed them,
packed them in a tub, brought them
from his garden where they grew.
Visiting times, she chattered
and fussed as she dipped them
one by one in unbleached sugar.
It was early in June,
the weather was warm.
The fruits of his last days
were passing sweet.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt


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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


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